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BARR Changes Would Allow 'Electronic Stalking,' Bolen Tells Pilots Nationwide
March 18, 2011
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen warned the nation's aircraft owners and pilots that proposed limitations to the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program were "dangerous, invasive and anti-competitive." Bolen was interviewed on AOPA Live, the streaming video channel of the 400,000+ member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).
The BARR program was established by Congress to protect privacy, security and competitiveness of companies, and allows real-time radar flight data on specific aircraft to be blocked from public view. A new proposal from the Federal Aviation Administration, recently published in the Federal Register, calls for identifier blocking only for a "valid security concern." NBAA calls the new proposal "fundamentally inconsistent with government's long-established obligation to protect privacy, not to compromise it."
"This is a very slippery slope," Bolen told AOPA Executive Producer Warren Morningstar. "We [provide information] to our federal government and we expect it to be protected. [For the government] to turn around and broadcast that information to unknown parties, against the person's will, facilitates electronic stalking." The full interview is available on AOPA's Web site.
Bolen compared the expectation of privacy for a business aircraft to that of a motorist using an electronic E-ZPass payment card at a toll booth on an Interstate Highway; in both modes of transportation, citizens expect that the government will protect privacy, not look to emerging technologies to facilitate an intrusion.
In the nine-minute AOPA Live interview, Bolen detailed reasons why a company might not want everyone to know all about its business flights. "[They fly] to see customers, clients, potential merger partners, and they don't want that broadcast to their competitors," he said. "There may be security concerns, too, where businesses know of people who would do them harm and they don't want [the government] to broadcast their movements."
NBAA will soon be filing comments opposing the new limitations to the BARR program, and the Association is urging NBAA Members to do likewise, communicating their own concerns with the proposal. Comments may be submitted for Docket FAA-2011-0183 through the government regulations comment web site, by mail or by fax. The deadline for comments is April 4, 2011.