SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Taylor Swift has taken legal action against a college student from Florida for using public data and social media to track the private jets of various public figures. Jack Sweeney, a junior studying information technology at the University of Central Florida, received a cease-and-desist letter from Swift’s representatives in late December. The letter accused Sweeney of enabling potential stalkers to track Swift’s location by automating the tracking of her private jet.
Sweeney, however, argued that tracking private jets is public information and that individuals should reasonably expect their jets to be tracked. He emphasized the importance of transparency and public information but insisted that he never intended to cause harm. Swift’s spokesperson echoed the legal complaint, expressing concerns that the timing of stalkers suggests a connection to Sweeney’s flight-tracking sites.
The spokesperson also accused Sweeney of disregarding the personal safety of others and willfully harassing Swift. The fact that Sweeney’s automated tracking accounts merely repackage public data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, a government agency, did not dissuade Swift’s legal team from demanding that Sweeney stop providing information about Swift’s location to the public.
At one point, Sweeney had more than 30 flight-tracking accounts on Twitter, now known as X after being purchased by Elon Musk. The conflict extended to Musk, who initially refused to ban Sweeney’s account due to his commitment to free speech but later accused Sweeney of endangering his personal safety and effectively banned him from X.
The situation has sparked a debate about public data, transparency, and privacy, as well as the implications of tracking private jets for public figures. It also raises questions about the responsibility of individuals who access and share public information and the potential risks associated with such actions. As Swift and Sweeney continue to clash over this issue, it highlights the intersection of technology, privacy, and the law in the digital age.