Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Northwest Gives Personal Data to NASA

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the lie-in-the-sky dept.

Privacy 440

Tree writes "Following four months on the heels of JetBlue's confession that they released passenger data to the Feds against their stated privacy guidelines, the Washington Post is reporting that Northwest has now admitted that they've done the same thing during a time period when they said they weren't. Nice. They were once my favorite airline."

cancel ×

440 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Don't forget... (-1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014189)

...to pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

Not NSA but NASA? (5, Funny)

TheAngryArmadillo (158896) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014192)

I was sure the submitter meant the NSA [nsa.gov] but looking at the story it really was NASA [nasa.gov] .

Are they going to be sharing this info with the Martian Immigration Service?

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (1)

innerlimit (593217) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014225)

the editor is probably on 'mars' time and forgot his morning coffee....

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (0, Flamebait)

ramdac (302865) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014407)

no it IS NASA, dimwit.

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014234)

When my mother found out that her father had a long lost son, and that son worked for NASA, the very first thing he asked for when contacted was the names, address, and social security numbers of everyone in our immediate family. NASA has some of the tighest security in the US, maybe even the world. The reason for that security I'll leave up to your imaginations.

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (1)

headbonz (156721) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014248)

Nope. If you took the time to read the article, you would have seen that the poster has it right: The data were given to NASA, not to the NSA. Of course, the NSA probably already has all of that information...

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014271)

Well duh to you too.

If you took the time to read the post, you would have seen that he realized it was NASA and not the NSA.

Where did you go to school, Texas?

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (1)

Echnin (607099) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014289)

If you took time to read what you're replying to, you would have seen that the OP didn't disagree with the article poster. S/he was just claryfying the point for others who may be confused about this.

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (1)

Orgasmatron (8103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014257)

According to the article, it really was NASA. Unless there were about 30 typos in the story...

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014376)

Damn ths "Big Brother" spell checking program.

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (5, Informative)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014310)

Indeed. I thought that MSN had simply mistakenly put NASA instead of NSA and the poster hadn't picked up on it too. The clincher however is the reference to "Ames Research Center" which is indeed a NASA facility. I guess they don't want Marvin the Martian visiting the US anytime soon...

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014466)

Why would NASA need this data? Looking for volunteers to send to Mars or something?

I could more easily believe a typo...

Re:Not NSA but NASA? (1)

mattyp (720004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014479)

The clincher however is the reference to "Ames Research Center"

sure it's not Aldrich Ames?

maybe carnivore sticks the n-"A"-sa in if it sees a story about NSA.

Gee, what a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014197)

Surprise? Nope.

NASA? (0, Funny)

jmerelo (216716) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014198)

Did they need it to find Beagle II?
You probably mean a 3-letter agency, here, right?

wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014215)

rtfa

Re:wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014304)

No no, that's 4 letters ...

double wrong (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014311)

not only did they really mean nasa, but the beagle ii is an ESA probe. that's the eurpoean space agency.

not that nasa wouldn't like the beagle to be found, but they're not the party responsible for it.

Re:double wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014489)

I'm sure he's fully aware of that, it's just that NASA is just the only space agency capable of finding it.

It's the lying that hurts... (5, Insightful)

blackdefiance (142579) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014210)

Like my parents used to say... "It's not that we're so angry that you did [insert bad thing here], it's that you lied to us about it.

Re:It's the lying that hurts... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014252)

What are you on [warprecords.com] about, simpleton?

Government pressure? (2, Insightful)

xyxy (742859) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014259)

I don't mean to excure them, but I do think it's worth wondering aloud whether they got some not-so-subtle hints that the didn't need to mention this to the public.

Re:Government pressure? (2, Insightful)

giminy (94188) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014343)

Reminds me of how this used to work when I was a child.

"Yeah, sorry I lied, but [big] brother made me do it..."

The article makes it sound like this was all completely voluntary though (ie the government simply asked for the information, no subpoenas and no PATRIOT act handwaving at how you can't mention that records were taken).

While speculation at best, it might be good to look into whether or not these "hints" you suggest were dropped.

Re:It's the lying that hurts... (2, Funny)

sulli (195030) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014318)

So can we smack Northwest? Or lock them in their room all night without (economy class airliine) dinner?

Clark lobbies for CAPPS II (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014459)

Federal disclosure records show that Clark lobbied directly on "information transfers, airline security, and homeland security issues" for Acxiom. The company was pushing the by now notorious CAPPS II, a creepy program designed to profile all airline passengers. Clark, who reportedly got $800,000 in fees for his work, lobbied the Justice Department, CIA, and Department of Transportation. According to The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, he met personally with Vice President Dick Cheney.

[villagevoice.com]

Re:It's the lying that hurts... (5, Insightful)

buelba (701300) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014465)

Depending on what happens to Northwest's stock price on Tuesday, this one may really hurt. Under the Securities Act of 1934 and rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder:

It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, by the use of any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce, or of the mails or of any facility of any national securities exchange,

To employ any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud,
To make any untrue statement of a material fact or to omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading, or
To engage in any act, practice, or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person,
in connection with the purchase or sale of any security.
In practice, what this means is that if a company (whether or not through a director or officer) lies about something material to the stock price, people who buy during the period of market manipulation (essentially, from the date of the lie until the truth is revealed) can recover for their damages (generally but not always what they paid minus the "true value" of the stock when they bought it).

Setting the "true value" of a stock on a given date, absent the market manipulation, is obviously an excursion into the hypothetical. One strong indicator, however, is how much the stock falls when the truth is revealed. So watch Northwest when the market opens and, if it falls a lot, expect to see securities lawsuits as well as privacy lawsuits.

NASA? (0, Redundant)

placeclicker (709182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014212)

Now everyone's spying on us :(.

Bad news, Mr. al-Hassan..... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014213)

We're sending you to Mars because of your ties to terrorist groups. Nothing personal, you understand, right?

Re:Bad news, Mr. al-Hassan..... (1)

Shut the fuck up! (572058) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014389)

We're sending you to Mars because of your ties to terrorist groups.

Ok. If that's what it takes to get to go to Mars. Anyone know if you can join Al Qaida by email?

Re:Bad news, Mr. al-Hassan..... (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014421)

Sure send a letter of intent to spooks@nsa.gov

Midwest Express (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014214)

...is the only way to fly. They would never hand off my info to any government agency, AND all their seats are first class, no coach.

Their privacy policy is one of the most rigorous in the business, and they actually follow it.

How do I know?

Because I liked Midwest Express so much, I bought the company.

Repeat after me... (5, Funny)

lisany (700361) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014218)

We do not live in a police state. The Government trusts us. Donald Rumsfeld is infallable. All hail Bush.

Re:Repeat after me... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014275)

Cheney, get back to your undisclosed location!

Re:Repeat after me... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014295)

I guess this is what they had to do to get that extra funding.

Re:Repeat after me... (1)

petabyte (238821) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014301)

I believe you meant Ashcroft. Rumsfeld (though I'm sure he has many faults) really could not be construed as creating a police state in the US. That would be the Attorney General.

Then again, if you live in Iraq, then I guess Rumsfeld would apply.

Re:Repeat after me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014364)

Well, in a Police State, it is important to squash dissent.

Rumsfeld, who job is supposed to focus on events OUTSIDE the US, has done this bye suggesting that people who criticze Bush are un-American strengthen our foes. [google.com]

It's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014457)

suggesting that people who criticze Bush are un-American strengthen our foes. [google.com]

This is quite true, as most of the criticism of Bush is criticizing him for doing the right thing. No where has this been more obvious than Howard Dean's opposition to Bush and support of Saddam Hussein.

Re:Repeat after me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014305)

Shut up and have some music [warprecords.com] , you scallywag.

Re:Repeat after me... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014368)

Oh I see, a dig at the Bush administration gets a +5 Funny, but the equally hilarious dig at the Clinton regime gets a -1, Troll.

I'm not really the geek type, could someone tell me when geek == filthy leftist hippy started evaluating to TRUE?

Maybe you missed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014409)

When the powers that be pushed though the worst bill since the DMCA though congress (Patriot Act). Using 9/11 as an excuse, and then continueing to further piss on the bill of rights, attaching parts of Patriot Act II onto bills that have nothing to do with it.

Oh, then there was the lies about why we went to war, it was for the WMD! Oh wait, no it was because Saddam was in connection with Al Qaeda! Oh no, wait, thats wrong too. It's beacuse he was an evil dictator, yeah! Thats the ticket.

Please, go back to watching Faux news you loser.

Re:Repeat after me... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014431)

Because the parent post is relevant and true, while your dig is old, tired, and we have heard the same lies a thousand times on Fox News?

Get a clue...

"Funny" (1, Troll)

Pave Low (566880) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014371)

What does this comment have to do with Bush or Rumsfeld or the connection a police state?

A government agency asked a company to provide passenger data, and they seemingly lied about it. That's about it. The fault is with Northwest for not being more forthcoming about it.

The desperation to insert 'Bush/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft is evil' in every item shows how much the Left is falling further into irrelevancy.

Re:"Funny" (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014454)

Right. He should have said Poindexter.

Re:"Funny" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014483)

A government agency asked a company to provide passenger data, and they seemingly lied about it. That's about it.

Quit watering down the issue. You should be concerned when the government is spying on it's citizens.

WHO is in charge of this government agency? WHY did they ask for this information? WHY did Northwest comply even when it went against the stated company policies? WHAT would happen to Northwest if they didn't comply? WHY did Northwest lie to it's customers?

The fault is with Northwest for not being more forthcoming about it.

No, the fault is that OUR government is seeking and collecting data on regular citizens like you and me, even through we have done nothing wrong. They want to make sure we are not a threat.

LESSEN the privacy at the top! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014474)

Seems to me that in a true and mature democracy, The REAL issue to be discussed is how we would be granting the least amount of privacy to those public officials that wield the most power in our government.
They are the very ones we should be keeping our eyes on.

Yes, of course: for the sake of preventing terrorism, a certain limited amount of privacy should be given up by EVERYONE. That's simple common sense and we shouldn't be throwing a freakin tizzie over it. We should always be told how much scrutiny we are under, and there should be controls over it. But overall: Come on, just face the fuckin music!

But the REAL issue should be: the more government/public power a person has in a truly open society, the more public scrutiny he NEEDS to be under: this is so damned logical and obvious.

Yes, the Clinton-haters abused this concept when they savaged his sexual life for political reasons. But the reality is: poetic justice was done. Rightly, such behavior backfired on them. (Clinton would have been elected for a third time, easy!)

But there is a perfect example before us now, showing us why we need to hold public officials fully and completely accountable: the amount of secrecy RIGHT NOW in the Bush White House is very SUSPECT.

They should be investigated on numerous accounts: the secret energy meetings (Hello: It's ENRON!);
The pre 9-11 White House security briefings, why must they be secret? (Just put two-plus-two together: Look at the incompetence. These guys were sleeping at the wheel, folks!);
What about the false report that Valerie Plame knew to be false? Where did that funky report from Niger REALLY come from? Who wrote it? WHY? Such lies and backroom manipulations and overall incomptence should be investigated, exposed, and those involved should be held accountable.

Jesus, America! Are you sleeping???

Al Gore Invented Data Mining (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014224)

Thats why the Clintoon Administration was legendary for invading people's privacy and selling all the relevant information to China...

Privacy Implications (5, Insightful)

barenaked (711701) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014226)

So what will you when every toll road you travel on by car passes your travel details automatically to law enforcement based on your license plate? Or when one day every intersection has a camera collecting this kind of information? Or when there's a camera doing face recognition on every street corner, evaluating whether you are a terrorist or not? Will you just stay at home all day? I think a more proactive stance is needed here. Getting the general public to understand the privacy implications of these systems so they stop voting for people that put them in place is probably a lot more effective.

Re:Privacy Implications (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014293)

"Getting the general public to understand the privacy implications of these systems so they stop voting for people that put them in place is probably a lot more effective."

But over 50% of the population have _already_ figured out that there's no difference between voting for the control-freak Democrat candidate or the control-freak Republican candidate, and don't vote for either.

Re:Privacy Implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014298)

The UK already does this, every car entering and leaving can be tracked.

If you ever steal a car, never take it into London. They will know about it.

Re:Privacy Implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014415)

Americans in general are sheep.

Most of them think things like this are a good idea. And they like to sit around and watch Hannity and Combs (or whatever that is) and think up genius solutions like "they could just finger print everyone, and then they would know who is a terrorist ans who is not." They have no connection with activism, history, or thinking through the implications of their actions. Look at the way there was support for the war before it began (even though the anministration could not back up its claims), the way people run up credit card debt, no strong outcry over the Patriot Act or its sequel, and that 10 Jason Movies have been made and all made money.

Northworst? (3, Informative)

PiranhaEx (742431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014227)

They were your favorite airline? You obviously don't live in Detroit. Here, we call them Northworst, and it really doesn't surprise me. This is after they've used taxpayer money to build an addition to our airport that they're now calling the "Northwest World Gateway," totally ignoring its actual name.

Re:Northworst? (1)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014345)

I think airlines would be wise to avoid the word "west" in their names as the same thing happened to America Worst (West). Avoid them at all cost, man they suck.

Re:Northworst? (1)

Jahf (21968) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014362)

When flying to the NE US regularly a couple of years ago Northwest was the most comfortable and courteous airline around. Definitely my flight of choice from Nashville -> Philly or Detroit. Don't know much about their home rep, but I definitely liked their flights.

My other choice was usually Delta (to the SE US) or American. Delta is about the rudest airline to fly and even though American has a policy to expand passenger space, I was always getting stuck on TINY American Eagle flights (kinda like now where I always get stuck on a Frontier commuter instead of their much hyped Airbus flights).

Point? Not much, haven't flown on NW for awhile now (I think my miles expire this year).

Re:Northworst? (5, Interesting)

ari_j (90255) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014388)

At least you have options. I lived in North Dakota for 21 years, and Northworst essentially has a monopoly there. I had to drive 2 hours to get on a damn DC-9 to Minneapolis (another of NWA's hubs, along with Detroit and Memphis) and take a transfer from there. While in college, I was prone to drive the 4 1/2 hours to Minneapolis and fly Frontier or Sun Country from there.

That said, I flew a Northworst/KLM combination flight to Athens and back. KLM is no comparison to Northworst - wonderful service; attractive, friendly stewardesses; better seats; and more. If you have to spend 2 hours on Northworst to get 10 hours on KLM, do it.

But for domestic flights that go over or near Denver en route, I now prefer Frontier. Especially with their revamped fleet of Airbuses. I recently flew with them on a plane that had only been in service for 2 weeks since it was brand new, replete with DirecTV in every seat-back. (I didn't pay the $5 because I had a book, but I watched the moving map a lot.) A little more expensive than other 'budget' airlines, but worth it in terms of service and comfort.

Re:Northworst? (0)

themightythor (673485) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014437)

From what I know, airlines don't build anything with their own money when it comes to airports. When you buy a ticket, there is a tax on it called a PFC. It amounts to $3-5 per coupon. This tax goes directly to maintaining and expanding the airport in question. So, if by 'tax payer' you mean 'PFC tax payer', then I suppose you're right.

Re:Northworst? (2, Informative)

CracktownHts (655507) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014456)

You obviously don't live in Detroit. Here, we call them Northworst, and it really doesn't surprise me.

The correct name is "Edward H. McNamara/Northwest WorldGateway, and Northwest airlines picked up a good part of the tab. It's only fair that they get to stick their name on it too. Were you so attached to the dump that was the old Wayne County Airport? Most travellers weren't, I can assure you (I used to work at NWA, in the good old days before World War II I/II started).

At any rate, it's rather disappointing to read about this lack of honesty on the part of NWA. Their PR folks claim that they didn't technically violate their privacy policy, and they're probably technically right, but it violates the spirit of the policy. I have a paid ticket on NWA in the near future, and believe me I'd cancel it and demand a refund if I had the resources to fight their system, but since I don't I'll just gripe about it on /.

How about a database of privacy violaters? (5, Interesting)

Genghis9 (575560) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014231)

Somewhat akin to that project at MIT (Government Information Awareness [mit.edu] ) detailing public figures, there should be one for public companies noting when, where, what.

Then it should be easy to boycott and avoid them.

Who the fuck cares really? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014233)

Flight numbers, seat numbers, and names. So what? Do you think you're fucking James Bond and you're a super secret spy so no one can know anything about you? Do you think Northwest just blew your cover you stupid ass? Take it easy. You're not the person the feds are looking for. They're just trying to make sure your fat ass isn't blown up over Poughkeepsie by a terrorist. Ass bitch.

Silly Northwest airlines! (5, Funny)

xankar (710025) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014242)

If Jetblue jumped off a bridge, would you?

NASA... (1, Insightful)

Arimus (198136) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014249)

This surely begs the question if NASA have as much trouble with their mainstream programs for space missions how the heck can someone expect them to reliably mine data for terrorists... I think this is probably another of Bush's slip ups - he meant to say NSA when he dictated the request but ended up saying NASA instead :)

Not a good idea (3, Insightful)

calmdude (605711) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014253)

With airlines not doing so well these days, I don't think it's a very good idea for them to piss their customers off...

Of course, even if they lose 30% of their customers, the government will subsidize them for that 30%. Ahh...the wonders of...capitalism?

Story History (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014256)

from an aticle on the same topic at nytimes.com:

"We do not provide that type of information to anyone," Kurt Ebenhoch, a spokesman for Northwest, told The New York Times in a story published on Sept. 23.

Airlines in an impossible position (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014258)

To those who make jokes about "Martian Immigration" and the like, remember that it's the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The agency has a large role in promoting aviation safety.

On a separate point, remember that an airline that is pressed by the Government to violate its passengers' privacy is likely in an impossible position: "turn over your passenger records, or we have the security people strip-search all your passengers at the gate and we start safety inspections on every one of your planes 5 minutes before departure. You'll never have a customer again."

Air travel isn't what it cracked up to be (4, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014261)

They were once my favorite airline.

With all the paranoid hoops the feds make travelers jump through to board an aircraft, I must admit my favorite airline is Amtrack these days, for shorter journeys.

Re:Air travel isn't what it cracked up to be (1)

kennykb (547805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014294)

Yeah, well, it's kinda hard to hijack a train and drive it into a building.

Re:Air travel isn't what it cracked up to be (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014359)

I think you'll find that a runaway train derailling in a tight curve in a suburban area can be quite devastating. Not counting the hundreds of passengers casualties inside the train.

Anyway, with the feds controlling the hell out of aviation and watching major cities like never before, I reckon it's only a matter of time before terrorists realize it's far easier to crash trains in less high-profile areas. After all, it'll make quite as much noise in the news as 9/11, which is what terrorists are after. Then the US will turn into a real police state, because they'll realize they have to watch everything the same way they watch airports, and the terrorists will have won.

This country has a bleak future indeed :-(

Re:Air travel isn't what it cracked up to be (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014418)

I think you'll find that driving into buildings, even ones filled with thousands of innocent people, is perfectly normal behaviour for a train.

They're called terminals.

For goodness' sake, go rent Silver Streak or something.

KFG

Re:Air travel isn't what it cracked up to be (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014488)

Not really, just force it to go full speed when it hits the end of the line... straight into a crowded station, probably in a major city.

They probably all did this... (4, Insightful)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014262)

I'd bet that nearly all of the of the major Airlines have done this. Northwest and JetBlue just happened to get caught...

Article Text (site slowing) (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014264)

Northwest Airlines provided information on millions of passengers for a secret U.S. government air-security project soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, raising more concerns among some privacy advocates about the airlines' use of confidential customer data.

advertisement
The nation's fourth-largest airline asserted in September that it "did not provide that type of information to anyone." But Northwest acknowledged Friday that by that time, it had already turned over three months of reservation data to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Ames Research Center. Northwest is the second carrier to have been identified as secretly passing travelers' records to the government.

The airline industry has said publicly that it would not cooperate in developing a government passenger-screening program because of concerns that the project would infringe on customer privacy. But the participation of two airlines in separate programs demonstrates the industry's clandestine role in government security initiatives.

In September, JetBlue Airways said that it turned over passenger records to a defense contractor and apologized to its customers for doing so.

Northwest said in a statement Friday that it participated in the NASA program after the terrorist attacks to assist the government's search for technology to improve aviation security. "Northwest Airlines had a duty and an obligation to cooperate with the federal government for national security reasons," the airline said.

Records included personal information
The carrier declined to say how many passengers' records were shared with NASA from the period offered, October to December 2001. More than 10.9 million passengers traveled on Northwest flights during that time, according to the Transportation Department.

NASA documents show that NASA kept Northwest's passenger name records until September 2003. Such records typically include credit card numbers, addresses and telephone numbers.

NASA said it used the information to investigate whether "data mining" of the records could improve assessments of threats posed by passengers, according to the agency's written responses to questions. At the time the agency also was exploring other possible projects aimed at improving air security, it said. NASA said no other airlines were involved in the project and that it did not share its data with other parties. The agency said it did not pay for the data.

Northwest said it did not inform any passengers that it shared data with NASA. It also said it did not believe that the data sharing violated its privacy policy.

"Our privacy policy commits Northwest not to sell passenger information to third parties for marketing purposes," the company said in its statement Friday . "This situation was entirely different, as we were providing the data to a government agency to conduct scientific research related to aviation security and we were confident that the privacy of passenger information would be maintained."

The carrier tells passengers visiting its Web site that "when you reserve or purchase travel services through Northwest Airlines nwa.com Reservations, we provide only the relevant information required by the car rental agency, hotel, or other involved third party to ensure the successful fulfillment of your travel arrangements."

Earlier admission
The disclosure of Northwest's participation in the NASA project comes just four months after JetBlue's admission of involvement in a secret security project conducted by the Defense Department. JetBlue conceded that it violated its privacy policy when it turned over records on 1.1 million passengers. JetBlue is being sued by passengers in class-action lawsuits.

The Northwest and NASA documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates privacy rights and open government. The organization, which provided the documents to The Washington Post, said it plans to take legal action this week in an effort to force the government to disclose more information about NASA's secret security project and to investigate Northwest's actions.

"We strongly believe aviation security programs should be developed publicly," said David L. Sobel, general counsel for the group. "While the airline in this case might have thought the action appropriate, the public at large sees it as a serious violation of personal privacy."

Northwest's sharing of information with the government could have implications in the European Union, where officials have balked at providing passenger data to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration as part of that agency's computer passenger-screening program, known as CAPPS II. The EU has said that turning over passenger records to the TSA would violate its privacy laws.

NASA officials did not seem concerned about potential privacy violations until last fall, when JetBlue's cooperation with the Pentagon was disclosed.

In an e-mail written on Sept. 23, 2003, to Northwest's security manager, a NASA official indicated that he wanted to return the airlines' passenger data, which was stored on compact discs.

"As you probably have heard by now, our 'data mining for aviation security' project did not receive any FY2003 funds. My interpretation is that NASA management decided that they did not want to continue working with passenger data in order to avoid creating the appearance that we were violating people's privacy," NASA engineer Mark Schwabacher wrote to Northwest Airlines security manager Jay Dombrowski. "You may have heard about the problems that JetBlue is now having after providing passenger data for a project similar to ours."

In its written responses, NASA said it terminated the program in late 2002 because data mining was not a "viable line of investigation."

The e-mail to Northwest included a link to a news report about the JetBlue matter.

Northwest publicly denied disclosure
On the same day as the NASA e-mail, news media quoted Northwest officials responding to the JetBlue incident. "We do not provide that type of information to anyone," Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch was quoted as saying in the New York Times on Sept. 23.

An article in the following day's St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press said: "Northwest Airlines will not share customer information, as JetBlue Airways has, Northwest chief executive Richard Anderson said Tuesday in brief remarks after addressing the St. Paul Rotary."

The Electronic Privacy Information Center said it originally filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2002 with the TSA as part of an effort to obtain details of CAPPS II development. The TSA responded to the request by providing NASA documents that indicated NASA was involved with the "data mining" system with Northwest Airlines. The CAPPS II system, scheduled to be introduced this summer, seeks to identify all U.S. passengers using commercial databases and then rate the security risk posed by each passenger.

Privacy concerns
The Electronic Privacy Information Center and other privacy advocates have argued for years that CAPPS II is being developed under strict secrecy and they believe that plans disclosed so far violate personal privacy.

The organization said it plans to file a complaint about the Northwest incident this week with the Transportation Department, which oversees the airline industry's compliance with rules guarding private consumer information.

The group said it also plans to sue NASA in U.S. District Court in San Jose this week, because, the organization said, the space agency did not disclose enough information in its response to the FOIA request.

The group seeks to know more about the NASA program, including whether the agency shared the information with other parties and whether any other airlines were involved.

"There doesn't seem to be a classic space exploration endeavor here," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty program.

The TSA has said it is developing CAPPS II to better identify people who might be terrorists. But the program will also be used by law enforcement officials to identify and question people suspected of violent crimes.

Steinhardt said the Northwest and JetBlue incidents provide people with another reason to be wary about CAPPS II. "What this makes plain is that we cannot believe the assurances we've received that this passenger data will only be used for limited purposes," he said. "Inevitably, it will leak out for other uses."

Researcher Margaret Smith contributed to this report.
(C) 2003 The Washington Post Company

Gathering Information (-1, Offtopic)

lithiumfox (736891) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014270)

I knew the goverment was gathering information on consumers as soon as grocery stores introduced no-clip coupon cards. I say ban the cards.

Re:Gathering Information (club cards) (1)

westyvw (653833) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014329)

Ah they are ok. At least they use a phone number. I dont buy anything but beer from the grocery store that uses a card anyway (I go to a food coop for that). But I enter in a phone number. Gee my deceased grandmother seems to drink alot of beer according to thier records!

Re:Gathering Information (club cards) (1)

AceCaseOR (594637) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014413)

I use the cards, but generally if I buy something with the card, I'll want them to keep stocking that item. These stores generally consider the number of holders of their cards to represent a percentage of people in a geographical area who don't have the cards.

So, if I have a card, and if I can use it when buying, say, some action figures for my collection, than I will, because then they'll continue stocking the figures. It's not like I'm buying porn and using the card on the purchase.

95% of the people who have these cards aren't using them when buying anything like pr0n or condoms or anything where they would be embarrassed if their mother knew they were buying them. Besides, for items like that, you generally can't get a discount on them using the cards.

Re:Gathering Information (club cards) (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014481)

Actualy, the cards are used to hide the fact that they are raising the price of goods.

Pre-card, an item would cost a buck.

Now, that same item costs 3 bucks without a card, and 1.75 with a card. They know there data is crap. Hell, half the time I see people forget their cards, and the cashier just uses one that they have lying around.

it's reasonable to expect the price of goods to climb, but the amount they jump when a store uses a card is exploitive.

saadly, a lot of people don't realize this, and stop going to stores that kept there prices low, but didn't have a card system. So those stores now have a card system, and increased there cost to pay for the system.

Good news is, now that everybody gotone, market forces(HA get it MARKET forces!) should stop the rapid price increase.

Cow tipping: A refined art (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014281)

It is a strange fact of nature that cows sleep standing up. Several theories have been proposed as to why this is so, but the prevailing idea is that sleeping upright is an evolved defense mechanism that provides the cow with a better opportunity to escape predators. Whatever the reason, you can use this natural anomoly for your recreational pleasure!

Cow tipping is a tradition among rural youths that has been around since humans first domesticated the bovine species. The practice is a great way to increase sef-confidence at an early age. Also, with the increasing separation of humans from the natural world, cow tipping is an easy way to get in "touch" with nature.

However, the urbanization of rural areas worldwide has begun to threaten this long-standing and important custom. It is therefore imperative that cow tipping be kept alive so future generations can enjoy this activity, which has been so important to rural adolescent development. The following steps will ensure a successful night of cow tipping:
  • Choose a cloudy or moonless night. The darker it is, the easier it will be to approach the cow.
    Find a location with the fewest cows. This will increase the chances that all the cows will be asleep.
  • Make sure there are NO BULLS in the field. Bull attacks are the leading cause of injury among cow tippers. Remember, bulls are cows with horns. As a safety precaution, bring a red blanket for impromptu matadoring.
  • Once you have found a good location, check wind direction and approach your target cow against the wind. This will make it harder for the cow to hear you.
  • Go for the tip! In a creeping motion, walk toward the cow, place both hands on one of its flanks, and push with a hard, but smooth stroke.
  • As soon as the tip is complete, revel briefly in your success, then RUN LIKE HELL!! The tipped cow will usually wake on impact with the ground, which will awaken the other cows. Sometimes a panicked stampede will follow, and that's a really bad scene.
Have fun with your new-found activity, but please be a humane and considerate cow-tipper. Keep in mind that cows are living creatures and sacred in several nations. Treat them as you would want to be treated. Also, good citizens respect property rights. You should get permission before you enter a field with cattle. You may save yourself some buckshot to the buttocks.

Happy tipping!!!

surprise, surprise... (5, Insightful)

tuxette (731067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014283)

Privacy policies in the US aren't worth the bandwidth they waste. And they will continue to be worthless unless they're backed by strong national (not just state) privacy legislation similar to the Norwegian Personal Data Act [datatilsynet.no] or the EU Personal Data Directive [dataprivacy.ie] .

That way, people don't have to be worried about "loopholes" in privacy policies such as the one indicated in a NYT article [nytimes.com] on the same subject:

The company said in a statement: "Our privacy policy commits Northwest not to sell passenger information to third parties for marketing purposes. This situation was entirely different, as we were providing the data to a government agency to conduct specific scientific research related to aviation security and we were confident that the privacy of passenger information would be maintained."

According to for example Norwegian law, this transfer would be unlawful unless the data subjects consented to the transfer.

Re:surprise, surprise... (2, Interesting)

pigpilot (733494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014484)

In the EU we have learned that when the USA throws it weight around our EU laws count for very little.

The laws that were meant to protect the data of EU citizens has been ignored when it came to demands from the USA that personal data of EU air travellers be passed to the USA without the previous safeguards.

The Register [theregister.co.uk] has more details on how weak the EUs stand has been.

NASA (-1, Redundant)

brain_not_ticking (722737) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014296)

Why would NASA want information on airlines' passengers? I can understand the Government, in general would, but NASA? NASA does space exploration, not national defense. What gives?

Re:NASA (2, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014331)

Why would NASA want information on airlines' passengers? I can understand the Government, in general would, but NASA? NASA does space exploration, not national defense. What gives?

They "misplaced" one of their super intelligent space monkeys and are covertly trying to find where he fled to without alerting the unsespecting authorities.

Recent reports of fluctuating banana prices only spurred their resolve. Bonkers MUST be found before he mates!

class action (1)

msg1825 (742416) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014299)

... lawsuit should be in order

I'm sure the attorneys can use the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014354)

that who gets it all in a class action

Somebody needs to get their story straight (4, Interesting)

Quixote (154172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014320)

From the article:
.... news media quoted Northwest officials responding to the JetBlue incident. "We do not provide that type of information to anyone," Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch was quoted as saying in the New York Times on Sept. 23.

An article in the following day's St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press said: "Northwest Airlines will not share customer information, as JetBlue Airways has, Northwest chief executive Richard Anderson said Tuesday in brief remarks after addressing the St. Paul Rotary."

Somebody should ask Dick Anderson, what exactly did he mean by his statement? If that is not a bald-faced lie, then I don't know what is.

I hope the shareholders hold this guy accountable.

As the former owner of a Nortwest Frequent Flyer card (which I just cut up on reading this story), I'd just like to say "sayonara!" to Northwest. It was not the sharing of the data that was bad; it was lying about it and the "cross my heart, swear to God we don't do that" that pissed me off.

I can understand the need for exploring new security options. How hard would it have been to anonymize the data? Just run it through a one-way hash function, and you can provide the data without invading anyone's privacy.

This ineptitude and lying really irritates me.

Re:Somebody needs to get their story straight (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014404)

"Somebody should ask Dick Anderson, what exactly did he mean by his statement? I"

why not you?

For a good reason (-1, Redundant)

r_picmip 5 (681513) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014326)

If you've got nothing to hide, it shouldn't matter.

I've got something to hide. (2, Insightful)

MichaelGCD (728279) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014401)

I hide the fact that I have nothing to hide. Never show your cards.

Re:For a good reason (1)

mojoNYC (595906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014416)

If you've got nothing to hide, it shouldn't matter.

yeah, right, just like the PATRIOT Act should only scare you if you're a terrorist...

Re:For a good reason (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014427)

everybody has something to hide.

If you don't agree, please post all you credit card numbers, with expiration dates, checking account number, with routing information, all logon and passwords to any thing you have. If you have nay children, please post there names birthdate, secret words, and schedules. Please post you employeer, employee number, annual salary/income.

Also please put a web cam in every room of your house so we can watch whatever you do. Be sure to post your drivers liscense information, all ID numbers.

So, you still got nothing to hide?

Some people... (1, Funny)

sulli (195030) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014335)

just know how to spy.

With codesharing it's hard to avoid the bad ones (5, Interesting)

wike (742888) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014358)

I had a flight last week on Delta (not my favorite airline either) but when I showed up to the airport and had problems with Delta's (we don't want to talk to you so we make you deal with a machine) self-check in kiosk I found out that I was actually flying on Northwest. Huh? Apparantly even though I booked Delta, they codeshare with Northwest. I wonder if my passenger information is now in Northwest's database.

Not the NASA! (5, Funny)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014361)

Really, the FBI can come over and arrest me, the NSA can deploy a task force in the North Sea standing by to obliberate most of Northern-Europe and the CIA can drug my beer but not the NASA! Dear Eris, they might decide to drop that Saturn V on my house, do you have any idea how much that blasted things weighs?

Don't worry; it's all part of the plan... (3, Funny)

Flakbait (742565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014365)

NASA's got this one covered. I must say, their plan is totally brilliant [scrappleface.com]

(disclaimer: satire)

That explains it (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014369)

I was wondering why the US Air lady asked me if I thought the moon landings had been faked when I checked in. I hope I answered correctly.

I hate this world (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014390)

More and more people lie more and more.
It is becoming accepted as 'not wrong'.
So who to trust? Nobody?

It wasn't NASA! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8014396)

It was MLB. Now they know my squalor index.

so how about it? (0)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014450)

Class action lawsuit anyone?

They lied. Someday people are going to get Fried. (4, Insightful)

leoaugust (665240) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014451)

Pure, and simple lying.

  • An article in the following day's St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press said: "Northwest Airlines will not share customer information, as JetBlue Airways has, [slashdot.org] Northwest chief executive Richard Anderson said Tuesday in brief remarks after addressing the St. Paul Rotary."
  • Northwest officials responding to the JetBlue incident. "We do not provide that type of information to anyone," Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch was quoted as saying in the New York Times on Sept. 23.

They lied.

Their sorry excuse ?

"Northwest Airlines had a duty and an obligation to cooperate with the federal government for national security reasons," the airline said.

It sounds just like what Adobe was saying when they got busted for the Currency Detection Algorithms [slashdot.org] that they had added as (semi) spyware. And then of course we find out that many other Graphics Programs Vendors had done the same ...

Their sorry excuse ?

Adobe had a duty and an obligation to cooperate with the federal government for national security reasons.

Really makes you wonder how many of these Corporations are already in-bed-with-the-feds ...

Is it already 1985 ?

Northwest Gives Personal Data to NASA (1)

shubert1966 (739403) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014452)

1) Please do not confuse my patriotism with:
a. Support for Bush/Cheny/et.al.
b. Nationalism
Thank you

I have to point out that we don't know the protocol for mining this data. They may analyze it in stages - trying to preserve anonymity as best they can. I do however, of course, realize that they have taken an UNPRECIDENTED step in all of this, and I doubt JetBlue or Northwest are the only carriers, or services for that matter, that have turned over records. Recent moves by content piracy lawyers to acquire dowloader data should not be confused with trying to protect our citizens - they are vastly different symptoms of us not being able to control everything. That not being able to control everything is a fact, it is also, IMHO, a sign that we are missing opportunities to make this planet safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Yet look at the underlying fundamentals, which these gery-op type actions seem to overlook:
Anyone, domestic or foreign, can readily acquire the tools to kill thousands or more people. They simply can. The Spirit rover on Mars is a great example of what technology can do from a long, long way away. We are incapable of preventing Free Will through legislation - only our actions, domestic and foreign can address this. Bombs and secret tribunals cannot.

My conclusion is that we are responding in kneejerk fashion to what is really a social disease. Instead of defending and offending at the same time, retaliating and escalating, we should do the 'right thing'. Invest in the world so that everyone has a sustainable future, beyond mud huts and slavery. I think then, the only problem we'd have with the technological genii is the random, actually crazy serial killer. The fundametalist killers would be satiated, and re-absorbed into their communities. Living happily everafter (tra la la).

Damed if I know what I would do... (2, Interesting)

zulux (112259) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014460)



I have to admit - that right after 9/11, if NASA asked for a passenger list - I'd would have probably given it to them as fast as possible.

The trouble comes, though, is when a passanger asked me: "Did you share my data with anybody?"

I *would* have told them "Yeah... NASA got a copy. Got a problem with that?"

Airplanse travel over provate and public property - there should be no expecation of pricacy. When a 747 flies over my house - I expect the governemnt to protect me by making sure that some fundelementalist asshole isen't about to crash the plaine into my house.

So what if NASA got a copy of the files ? - it's the hining that's desturbing.

Nothing to worry about... (1)

banzai75 (310300) | more than 10 years ago | (#8014498)

They're just checking for illegal aliens.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>