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Data gobbling app lands Delta Air Lines in the dock on privacy charge

Biz faces $2,500 fine per download since 2010

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California's Attorney General has taken an airline to court for not having a mobile app privacy policy, in the first case of its kind.

Delta Air Lines' Fly Delta app collected user information including addresses, credit card details and their location, but had no policy on safeguarding this private information.

That puts it in breach of California's 2004 Online Privacy Protection Act. And the state's Attorney General has decided to take action.

Thirty days after asking Delta to write a privacy policy for its app, Attorney General Kamala Harris has filed legal action against the airline. Delta was one of several app providers contacted by Harris, but Delta's non-compliance makes it the first to be on the end of a lawsuit.

California is the first state to take a privacy violation case against a smartphone application, says the Wall Street Journal.

Delta faces a $2,500 fine per app downloaded by a Californian consumer since the app's launch in 2010.

The Fly Delta app, available on iPhone, Android, Windows and BlackBerry, lets users check in, alter flight details, and rebook flights, but also tracks the location of checked-in bags, records the location of users, and snaffles information including date of birth, credit card numbers, employer details.

It also lets you "connect with Delta partners".

Delta is accused of breaching California's data protection law, which demands that privacy policies are "conspicuously posted". Harris said:

Losing your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is. 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.

A privacy policy on Delta Air Lines' website does not mention the app nor mention the sort of data collected by the app including geo-location. We asked Delta for a comment but received no reply. ®

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