Big Brother Looking Out For You

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Big Brother is watching us, but JetBlue? The discount airline admitted last week that it turned over personal information on a million of its passengers to an Army contractor that used the information to find out their Social Security numbers, financial histories and occupations. The airline violated its own privacy code in doing so and officials apologized Friday. "This was a mistake on our part and I know you and many of our customers feel betrayed by it," CEO David Neeleman said in an e-mail to the 150 customers who complained. The data was turned over to Torch Concepts, which said it was doing research on "airline passenger risk assessment." Certainly not all risk comes from within the plane and the Bush administration has recognized that to the tune of $100 million. The White House has decided to spend the money to research missile defense systems for airliners. The commitment is a lot more money than ever discussed previously and, according to The New York Times, reflects government fears that Al Qaeda plans to try again to down an airliner with shoulder-launched missiles. The terrorist group is believed to be behind the failed missile attack on an Israeli airliner last year in Africa. A proposal was released to defense contractors last week asking them to base civilian systems on existing military jamming technology.