Schumer: Airlines collecting personal web data is ‘Big Brother meets Big Business’

Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York makes remarks to the press on February 27 in Washington, DC. On Sunday, he called on the FTC to investigate airlines' use of collecting personal data to change ticket prices. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

March 12 (UPI) — Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Sunday called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate a plan by major airlines to collect personal data to tailor airfare prices to customers.

“This is ‘Big Brother’ meets ‘Big Business’ and it is a frightening combo for already-price badgered airline travelers,” Schumer said in a letter to the FTC.

Schumer said airlines are planning to track customers’ IP addresses to predict how much they would be willing to pay for an airplane ticket, AMNY reported. This is not only an invasive practice, Schumer said, but would also lead to customers paying completely different prices for the same service based on their online search history, a practice labeled “micro-target pricing.”

“The thought that they or others within the travel industry are looking to nickel and dime consumers based on their mobile phone or computer’s browser history is a sad state of affairs that just might violate consumer protections,” Schumer said.

“Consumers and travelers should never have to worry that their private information is being used to increase their personal costs,” the senator added. “When it comes to finding ways to monetize every atom of the traveling experience, few industries are better than the airlines. So, we must take the very real concern for the use of this latest version of traveler tracking straight to the FTC before it inches mainstream, and we must demand a deeper look.”

This isn’t the first time Schumer has criticized the airline industry’s practices.

Last year, Schumer criticized American Airlines for charging customers a fee to use the overhead bin.

And in 2016, Schumer called on the Federal Aviation Administration to stop American Airlines from making seats smaller.

The FAA is still considering whether to regulate airlines’ ability to shrink seats.


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