Who Owns the Data on Your Airline Ticket?
Eric Schlam, Director, Law Department, Assistant General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Airlines Reporting Corporation, USA
You just made arrangements to the destination of your dreams. On your airline ticket there are some fifty or so pieces of information, most about you, including your name, credit card number, itinerary and the price you paid for your flight. Did you ever really consider who owns those data elements, or the ticket in its entirety? You do . . . right? Well, those questions are actually more complicated than they appear.
To more fully understand the complexities involved in what seems like a very benign inquiry, this article will explore what “ownership” potentially means in the data context. Specifically, we will evaluate what theories abound where multiple parties contribute individual data elements creating the larger, more comprehensive set of information that exists on an airline ticket. A brief review of the disparity between US and international views on the topic will follow with an overview of the Airlines Reporting Corporation’s approach regarding ownership versus usage rights. A quick look at ownership implications in the New Distribution Capability (NDC) will follow concluding with a summary of the current state of data ownership theories.
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