News, views and comments
I have been irritated by the number of organisations contacting me because of the new GDPR regulations, but have had nothing from the CAA which holds and makes publicly available all sorts of information I regard as personal. This information is passed on to other, third parties, who then exploit it for commercial gain. Using these combinations of data sources, anyone − including the troublemakers surrounding our airfield − can track, record and attribute every aircraft movement. So, I wrote to both scanner app company Flightradar24, which provides real-time aircraft tracking on your smartphone, and to the CAA. In both cases, I told them I was refusing them permission to use my personal data.
Flightradar24 provides, amongst other things, an app which anyone can use to see where I have been flying and a mass of personal data around that. They told me that for $500 I could have a limited amount of information removed from their system immediately but that the tracking information would still be displayed. To be fair, they said that if I provided proof of ownership they would remove this information after an unspecified time for free. However, I would still have my flights tracked!
The response from the CAA informed me that the right to have my data removed from their systems was ‘not absolute’. The letter said:
‘The right to erasure does not apply if processing is necessary to comply with a legal obligation. The CAA is responsible for maintaining the UK Register of Civil Aircraft in accordance with the Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO). The ANO details what information must be held against each aircraft and this includes the name and address of the registered owner of the aircraft. The CAA is also required by the Civil Aviation Authority Regulations 1991 to make the UK Register available for inspection by any person.’
They offered me the opportunity to have my home address removed, but I would have to supply another address (which would be publicly available).
I have always been uncomfortable about G-INFO, having witnessed many (mostly unfounded) complaints about flyers which were clearly facilitated by the G-INFO database. I think the data it contains is at least as private as car ownership information, yet I don’t see the DVLA publishing any data on car ownership. I can only imagine the furore if this was suggested. The DVLA maintains a record of your car and only releases the information where there is a reasonable reason to do so. So why do aircraft owners and operators have to accept the flagrant abuse of our similarly private information by the CAA?
I really do hope that the CAA can be persuaded to take another look at this and treat us in the same manner as the car owner. Can Pilot do anything to help change their minds? Andy Haigh, pilot and airfield operator, Maypole Airfield