Taylor Swift launches legal criticism of college student tracking private planes

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — When it comes to dealing with a Florida college student who uses public data and social media to track the private planes of billionaires, politicians and other celebrities, Taylor Swift can't seem to get away with it.

In late December, Swift's camp hit Jack Sweeney, a junior studying information technology at the University of Central Florida, with a shock. Electronic cease and desist Who blamed the automated tracking of her private plane for informing stalkers of her location. In the letter, lawyers from the law firm Venable accused Sweeney of providing “individuals who intend to harm her, or with evil or violent intentions, a roadmap to carry out their plans.”

Sweeney provided the link to that message in an email to The Associated Press. In that letter, he emphasized that although he never intended to cause harm, he strongly believed in the importance of transparency and public information.

“One should reasonably expect that their plane will be tracked, whether I am the one doing it or not, because it is public information after all,” he wrote.

A Swift spokesperson echoed the legal complaint, saying the stalkers' “timing” suggested a connection to Sweeney's travel tracking sites. The spokesperson did not respond to questions seeking to clarify this charge, such as whether the pursuers were seen waiting for Swift at the airport when her plane arrived, or alternatively, whether there was evidence that the pursuers had somehow inferred Swift's subsequent location from the time of arrival. . From her trip.

The legal letter also accuses Sweeney of “disregarding the personal safety of others”; “Intentional and repeated harassment of our clients”; and “intentional, abusive and egregious conduct and persistent violations of our customers’ privacy.”

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It is difficult to reconcile such statements with the fact that Sweeney's automated tracking accounts merely recompile public data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, a government agency. This fact did not dissuade Venable's lawyers, who demanded that Sweeney “immediately stop providing information about our client's location to the public.”

A Swift spokesman did not respond to a question inquiring whether the lawyers had issued the same request to the FAA.

At one point, Sweeney had more than 30 such accounts on Twitter, which is now known as X after Elon Musk It bought the site for $44 billion In 2022. Musk next He had his own dust-up with Sweeneytweeted at one point that his commitment to free speech required him not to block Sweeney's @elonjet account even though he viewed it as an “immediate risk to personal safety.”

But it wasn't long before Musk suddenly flipped out and effectively banned the student from X, accusing Sweeney of endangering his personal safety.

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