EU & U.S. Should Secure IATA Foundational Documents & Initiate Multi-Jurisdictional Data Privacy Stakeholder Consultation
WASHINGTON, DC – Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today applauded the just-released EU Article 29 Working Party’s (WP29) letter to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regarding the “New Distribution Capability” (NDC) agreed by IATA airlines in the form of IATA Resolution 787. The WP29 letter raised a number of privacy and human rights concerns about NDC, particularly traveler profiling after observing that under NDC, the airlines had the right to demand every traveler’s nationality, age, marital status, travel history, shopping history, purchase history, frequent flyer participation and whether a trip was for business or leisure before quoting prices. Due to these concerns, the letter made clear that data protection authorities of the EU Member States would need to evaluate all potential impacts from NDC and that WP29 had placed NDC on its agenda.
As a first step in an expanded review process, WP29 requested documentation from IATA about its proposed new business model. WP29 is comprised of a data protection official from each EU Member State, the European Data Protection Supervisor and a representative from the EC. (The WP29 letter can be accessed at http://btcnews.co/12c9dVz.)
Many of the world’s airlines, travel distribution system participants and organizations that purchase air travel services are global enterprises. As such, BTC calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which is also reviewing NDC, and WP29 to avoid an inefficient data-privacy review process, and possibly the beginning of a patchwork of new rules, and instead, to work together to harmonize the outputs of their respective reviews concerning the sorts of personal data, if any, that airlines can lawfully demand of travelers before quoting them airfares. A multi-jurisdictional stakeholder consultation including privacy, consumer and travel groups from around the world would be an efficient, inclusive and deliberative process to embrace.
“The potential negative effects of NDC of less robust airline and distribution channel competition and higher fares are only overshadowed by consumer privacy concerns voiced by travel industry participants and consumers from six continents. Privacy groups, like all other stakeholders, were locked out of the IATA process to develop its new worldwide business model to price and distribute airline tickets,” stated BTC chairman Kevin Mitchell. “DOT and WP29 now have an opportunity to secure the input of organizations expert in data privacy issues and thoroughly vet the privacy implications of NDC. Critically important, both governmental organizations have a need to secure the foundational documents from IATA that would inform the purpose and intended effects of Resolution 787 and NDC,” added Mitchell.