Documents obtained by Vice through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that SpaceX entered CEO Elon Musk’s private jet into a federal privacy program but failed to follow through with the necessary privacy measures.
“Musk seemingly learned about this mistake—which allowed people to continue tracking the movements of his jet—in the midst of a December 2022 meltdown in which he banned the @ElonJet Twitter account tracking his jet, banned journalists on Twitter who linked to the account, and led a witchhunt against an alleged stalker on the social media platform,” Vice’s Jason Koebler wrote.
The program in question is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Privacy ICAO Aircraft Address program (PIA), which allows private jet owners to generate a temporary aircraft registration number that is only known to the owner and the US government, effectively shielding private jet owners from being tracked by hobbyist flight trackers or the general public.
The emails Vice obtained show that SpaceX enrolled Musk’s private jet in the program sometime before August of last year, but was not able to verify the temporary tail number, thus allowing the plane to still be tracked under its permanent, and publicly available tail number.
The emails between SpeceX and FAA coincided with Musk’s controversial actions in December 2022. During that time, he banned the @ElonJet Twitter account, which provided open-source flight information, and imposed new rules on Twitter to prevent users from sharing real-time location information.
He also banned several journalists criticizing him or sharing links related to the ElonJet account. Musk further engaged in a public campaign against an alleged stalker, requesting his Twitter followers’ assistance identifying the individual.
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