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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

JetBlue Confesses to Data Leak

WASHINGTON -- JetBlue Airways has acknowledged publicly that it had provided a Pentagon contractor with information on more than 1 million of its own passengers. That data, which was turned over in violation of the airline's own privacy policies, was then used to identify the passengers' Social Security numbers, financial histories and occupations as part of a program to track down terrorists and other "high risk" passengers.

JetBlue, a three-year-old discount airline, sent an e-mail message to passengers last week conceding that it had made a mistake in providing the records last year to Torch Concepts, an army contractor in Huntsville, Alabama, for a research project on "airline passenger risk assessment."

"This was a mistake on our part, and I know you and many of our customers feel betrayed by it," said David Neeleman, JetBlue's chief executive, in an e-mail message that the airline, based in New York, said was sent to about 150 passengers who had written in to complain.

Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue, which has been a rare success in the beleaguered airline industry and has prospered because of its reputation for low fares and consumer friendliness, insisted that none of the passenger information had been shared with the government. "The sole set of data in Torch's possession has been destroyed," he wrote. "No government agency ever had access to it."