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US Senator seeks protection for air passengers from tech that uses personal info to affect pricing

United States Senator Chuck Schumer is asking the federal government to safeguard air passengers from technology that would be using personal information collected to impact prices.

Schumer said that airlines and other companies are seriously considering the use of this kind of technology.

The Senator disclosed that he has filed a letter to the Federal Trade Commission to look into reports of a pricing policy that would levy various rates depending on private profiles gathered by data companies.

The policy stipulates that two flyers seated next to each other could be given two special ticket prices based on their Internet browsing history, their purchasing history on the Web or even their income level, said the senator.

“This is ‘Big Brother’ meets ‘Big Business’ and it is a frightening combo for already price badgered airline travelers,” Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer said the planned technology keeps track of customers’ IP addresses and then projects how much they are willing to pony up for a ticket. The senator could not specify any airline that is considering using this kind of technology, but said that a cloud software company called PROS revealed that some firms have begun to apply the policy.

“The thought that they or others within the travel industry are looking to nickel and dime consumers based on their mobile phone or computer’s browser history is a sad state of affairs that just might violate consumer protections,” Schumer stated.

In his communiqué to acting FTC chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen, Schumer said it’s about time to really look into reports of this online tracking being done by companies.

“Your ticket price to fly shouldn’t take off because of who you are, and so the FTC must investigate these profit maximization tactics enabled by the technology in general and set new guidelines to protect consumers from personalized price gouging and invasions of privacy from data miners,” said Schumer.

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