Billionaires, Hollywood stars and global climate activists share fame, fortune and a profile they work hard to build. This is all the reason why so many are calling on a publicly traded company not to track their flights and expose their carbon footprint.
AFP reports Flight-tracking websites and Twitter accounts that provide real-time views of air traffic are at the end of the regular pushback, ranging from complaints to equipment repossessions by those who would rather their movements not be in the public domain.
A US-based group alone gets dozens of “requests” every year to stop posting aircraft movements, according to organizer Dan Streufert.
“We have not removed anything so far. This is all public information. And I don’t want to be the arbiter of who is right and who is wrong,” added Streufert, founder of the flight tracking site ADS-B Exchange, which can track any flight from a private individual to a politician, star, activist or member of Royalty. .
Are those raindrops flying in private jets, or not? Ask for a friend. https://t.co/J5Q5ykzEQr
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) December 1, 2020
The AFP report outlines limits that may apply in some cases, but groups composing the flight paths note that the core information source is legally available and open to anyone with the appropriate gear to bring it fully into the public domain.
U.S. rules require aircraft in designated areas to be equipped with ADS-B technology that broadcasts aircraft positions using signals that relatively simple equipment can pick up. It outlines what happens next:
A service like Sweden-based Flightradar24 has 34,000 mostly volunteer-operated receivers around the world to pick up the signals, a key source of information that is fed back to a central network and combined with flight schedule and aircraft information.
Figuring out or confirming who a plane actually belongs to can take some detective work, said jet tracker Jack Sweeney, who filed a public registry request with the U.S. government that provided a form with the signature of a particular plane’s owner: Tesla boss Elon Musk.
Sweeney has attracted attention with his Twitter account that tracks the movements of the billionaire’s plane and even turned down Musk’s $5,000 offer to shut down @ElonJet, which has more than 480,000 followers.
“There’s so much traction, I’m doing something right. The celebrity thing — people like to see what celebrities are doing, that and the whole emissions thing,” he told AFP, citing concerns about the planes’ impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
“Posting it on Twitter makes it easier for people to access and understand,” Sweeney added.
Another Sweeney Twitter account, powered by data from ADS-B Exchange, showed in July that American model and celebrity Kylie Jenner’s plane made a flight in California that lasted just 17 minutes, Breitbart News reported.
Kylie Jenner’s jet took off from Camarillo, California, USA. Goes to Van Nuys, California, USA (VNY, Van Nuys Airport) arriving in about 10 feet. pic.twitter.com/Jo0ZAfaJ69
— CelebJets (@CelebJets) July 13, 2022
The internet was not happy.
The star soon faced a deluge of criticism on social media over concerns about the message he sent about climate change, while others pointed to the sheer hypocrisy involved.
Jenner was labeled a “climate criminal” for the rather high-speed private jet flights with her boyfriend Travis Scott, in a response that followed a backlash drawn by Taylor Swift for her frequent private jet hops.
Taylor Swift Needs Her Private Jet, How Else Is She Gonna Travel The World Collecting Every Sparkling Bodycon Jumpsuit Out There
— Zach Schiffman (@schlife) July 31, 2022
The problem goes far beyond Taylor Swift and private jets. Celebrities, corporations and the uber-wealthy leaving huge carbon footprints is a global trend. The richest 1% emit about 70 times more carbon than the bottom 50%.
— Adam Dear (@adamcbest) July 30, 2022
“They tell us working class people feel bad about our annual flight to a much-needed vacation, while these celebrities take private jets every other day like an Uber,” tweeted @juliphoria, in another example of the outrage.
“We’ll be tracking everything because honestly, if someone was a really bad actor and they wanted to know where this stuff is, you could build the electronics for $100 and just put in receivers to pick up the same signals yourself,” says Streufert of ADS. -B Exchange, recognize that the data is already there. It just needs to be spread.
Climate activists have also been summoned after they were tracked while taking multiple flights in their private jets once passing through completely private matters, as Bill Gates has had to admit:
In some parts of the world, governments have made it clear that the technology and the resulting information is unwelcome and ready to act against it — by force if necessary.
Chinese state media reported in 2021 that the authoritarian communist government had confiscated hundreds of recipients used for crowdsourcing flight tracking, citing the risk of “espionage.”
“In many cases, it’s authoritarian regimes that don’t like this exposure,” Streufert said.