privacy stories

This morning I read an article about the resignation of a VP at a discount airline Let’s call it airline B. I loved the story as a marvelous example of secrecy and privacy in the modern world.

Three airlines. Guy once worked for airline C; which was later acquired by airline A. So this guy was allowed a nice discount for flights on airline A. Favored folks, like this guy, were allowed to fly cheap on seats that would be otherwise empty. How was he to know what seats were empty? He could log into a special website.

So this guy goes to work for airline B; which competes with airline A. Time passes and the folks at airline B write some software to log into the special website and using that info they know which routes are highly booked and which aren’t. Presumably they use that in their own route planning.

Airline A finds out about Airline B’s clever scheme. What do they do? They hire some guys to pick up the trash at the home of some VP at Airline B. Curious about his eating habits? Nope, they are looking for paper.

Oh no! The Trash has been thru a shredder! No problem. They hire a company to digitally reconstruct his trash. (Don’t you just love that phrase: “digitally reconstructed his trash”?”

Of course this is all hearsay since but I read it in the New York Times.

Where’s the crime? Is it a crime to use data you glean from a web site? Is it a crime to collect somebody’s trash? Are there limits to what you can do with that trash? Well?

0 thoughts on “privacy stories

  1. Stuart Robinson

    Thanks for making that story digestable. The Globe and Mail piece reads like it’s been written backwards.

    Why didn’t Company A present false data to any logins on the guy’s account? Not much more expensive than hiring ‘digital reconstructors’ and more in the spirit of things.

  2. Ben Hyde

    My thought exactly! First they might need to have adjusted what ever implied warranty came with the web site; but once that was done they certainly could have had fun with the company C.

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