Delta Sued Over Noncompliance with California Privacy Law

Josh WolfordIT Management

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The state of California has filed the first lawsuit as a result of their new app privacy initiative, and the target is Delta airlines.

Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the civil suit, claiming that the app fails to have a clear privacy policy, despite collecting tons of personal information for users.

The complaint alleges that since at least 2010, Delta has operated a mobile app called “Fly Delta” for use on smartphones and other electronic devices. The Fly Delta app may be used to check-in online for an airplane flight, view reservations for air travel, rebook cancelled or missed flights, pay for checked baggage, track checked baggage, access a user’s frequent flyer account, take photographs, and even save a user’s geo-location. Despite collecting substantial personally identifiable information such as a user’s full name, telephone number, email address, frequent flyer account number and pin code, photographs, and geo-location, the Fly Delta application does not have a privacy policy.

In February, the AG's office announced the new mobile app privacy initiative that was designed to bolster enforcement of the California Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The new act stated that app providers that routinely collect personal info from consumers must provide a "conspicuous" privacy policy within their apps. The new act received support from major tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, HP, Microsoft, RIM, and eventually Facebook.

A special "Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit" was then created inside to California Department of Justice in order to see to it that the new rules were enforced.

In October, AG Harris sent the first formal notification to companies they felt were in violation of the act. The companies (including United, Delta, and OpenTable) were given 30 days to fix the issue regarding their privacy policies or face fines.

Today marks the first lawsuit to spring from these actions.

“Losing your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is,” said Attorney General Harris. “California law is clear that mobile apps collecting personal information need privacy policies, and that the users of those apps deserve to know what is being done with their personal information.”

With the suit, the AG's office wants Delta to be barred from distributing the app without new privacy policies, and also seeks up to $2,500 for each violation. That could add up to a hefty fine, as the app is one of the top free travel apps in the U.S.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf