It’s Now Harder to Track Taylor Swift’s Private Jet

It’s Now Harder to Track Taylor Swift’s Private Jet

Celebrities and billionaires have long complained that it’s just way too easy for random people on the internet to monitor how much fuel exhaust they waste as they flit through the skies via their private jets. Well, it appears that our government’s legislators have heard these complaints and, unlike when the rest of us whine about stuff, actually done something.

An amendment in the Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization bill that was passed last week will allow private aircraft owners to anonymize their registration information. President Joe Biden signed the FAA bill into law on May 16th, after it passed in the Senate 88-4 and the House 387 to 26.

Jet tracking has been made possible up until this point because private plane owners were forced to register aircraft ownership information with the FAA civil registry. That registry has been public until now, allowing for those data points to be combined with open radar mapping to understand where and when certain planes were traveling. It’s through this public information that online enthusiasts have been able to track the jet activity of America’s 1 percent.

The Warzone originally reported that the new FAA reauthorization bill, which was introduced last June, will effectively make it impossible (or, at the very least, very, very hard) to track the jet activity of the well-to-do. The law will allow private aircraft owners to request that the government hide the personally identifying information associated with their planes. That’s a bummer, since in an age of environmental concerns, it’s been helpful to know which members of America’s gilded class are spewing jet fuel into the atmosphere.

It’s not as if America’s rich and famous haven’t been lobbying for this to happen, either. Elon Musk famously threatened to sue Jack Sweeney, an undergraduate at the University of Florida, after the student made a Twitter account that tracked the billionaire’s private jet activity, ElonJet, in 2020. After Musk bought Twitter in 2022, he shadowbanned Sweeney beforefully banning him from the platform. Sweeney has since been allowed back on X.

Taylor Swift, meanwhile, has been dogged by complaints about her incessant air travel, also largely thanks to Sweeney’s flight monitoring efforts. Sweeney recently compiled a video of Swift’s 2023 plane trips, the likes of which appeared to show that the pop star had flown 178,000 miles last year—roughly the equivalent of seven trips around the Earth. According to Sweeney, her jets emitted 1,200 tons of CO2, or 83 times the amount of the average American. A lawyer for Swift served Sweeney with a cease-and-desist order in February.


Taylor Swift’s Two Private Jets in 2023: Where Did They Go?

Swift’s air travel habits have proven particularly troublesome for her, tarnishing a public image that has otherwise been tightly protected and controlled. A popular conspiracy theory has postulated that the pop star has intentionally seeded news stories—such as her attendance of a New York Jets game involving her beau Travis Kelce—purely in an effort to bury the keywords “Taylor Swift” and “jets” in Google’s search index. This same theory would also seem applicable to a viral infotainment story that recently made the rounds in which Kelce talked about “jet lag” and Swift uttered: “Jet lag is a choice.”

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that, unlike someone like Musk, Swift actually had a pretty good reason to travel a lot last year: she was on tour. That said, it’s still a lot of CO2. Like, a lot a lot.

I am ostensibly in favor of data privacy regulations, though it’s somewhat ridiculous (if predictable) that billionaires get this sort of data privacy amendment, while regular Americans get surveillance capitalism as usual.

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