Elon Musk acuires a company that tracks aircraft and fires everyone after it sold his data

Elon Musk claims plane-tracking data is a risky privacy breach Twitter’s rules were rewritten to prevent publishing one’s physical location. The chaotic few days prompted the EU to warn Musk that silencing journalists could lead to sanctions from EU regulators. US Representative Adam Schiff demanded that Musk restore the suspended accounts and explain to Congress that he Why did it decide to retaliate against the press in the first place.

A poll asked users when they should lift account suspensions, which led to Musk restoring some, but not all, of those accounts. Lost in the chaos is how Musk has been successful in suppressing real-time flight data on the Internet. In doing so he is taking aim at an incredibly valuable source of information that has helped researchers, journalists and experts track down Russian oligarchs and the missing. Have helped do everything from investigating the fate of planes to tracking down international hitmen.

Musk isn’t the only one attempting to keep this sort of data none of the public’s concern. Both real-time and historical information on Musk’s main private jet, a 2015 Gulfstream G650ER, tail number N628TS, is conspicuously missing from the two main flight-tracking sites. Platforms: FlightAware and FlightRadar24.

FlightAware reports that its real-time data on Musk’s jet is not available due to European government data regulations, while its historical data about aircraft arrivals and departures was removed per owner/operator request. A sighting of Musk’s jet on Flightradar24 returns the message: We did not receive the data.

Even small tracking platforms like Airport, which has locked my Twitter, have taken Musk’s flight information offline. Airportinfo administrator Christian Rome says that the ongoing uproar over the location of Elon Musk’s plane has prevented us from showing his plane for the time being. Since musk is threatening legal action, there is no threat to us.

Rome says his office hasn’t heard from Musk’s legal team. They took the step as a precaution. They say don’t mess with the world’s former richest man. Investigative outlet Bellingcat recommends Flightradar24 for open source investigators, and its researchers have used tools such as tracking potential Russian intelligence operatives, understanding political turmoil in Kazakhstan, following the Venezuelan government’s semi-secret private jets, and tracking aircraft. 

Other investigative outlets, such as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, have similarly leveraged the data to hunt down shady dealings around the world. But as Musk’s attempt to suppress the information has shown, not everyone wants this data to be public. For starters some aircraft can turn off their transponders, which relay their coordinates to flight regulators. That option is generally not available to private civilian aircraft.

More useful to someone like Musk is the limited list of aircraft data displayed by the FAA. Introduced by a 2018 act of Congress, it allows private jet owners to prevent their data from being transmitted by the FAA. A spokesperson for FlightRadar24 confirmed to WIRED that since they rely primarily on data from the FAA, they respect the block list.

However, not everyone trusts the FAA. The aircraft broadcasts basic information regularly in mid-flight via Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Technology (ADS-B). ADS-Bexchange, which bills itself as the world’s largest source of unfiltered flight data, has continued to use that technology to provide real-time information on Musk’s Gulfstream.

Sweeney relies on that website for its bots, which have since moved to Instagram and Mastodon. The condition data shown by ADS Exchange is available to anyone who can spend $50 on Amazon to put the parts together and read the Q&A on their website. It’s not a secret. Users on the site’s Discord channel have mocked Musk’s effort in recent days following this information, clarifying that he does not intend to remove the jet from the platform.

ADSBX is not blocked or hidden for any reason,” wrote a moderator. Anyone keeping an eye on Musk’s jet will know that the Twitter CEO was on his way to Qatar for the World Cup final on Sunday. Musk’s Twitter acquisition Musk took a selfie with a Russian state broadcaster in Doha. Musk has also relied on a Dubai-based financier close to the Russian oligarch to finance the $44 billion purchase of the social network.

Given how much scrutiny this type of flight data has brought upon him and his business dealings, it is perhaps no surprise that Musk has taken some desperate measures to hide this information. He reportedly offered Sweeney $5,000 to take down the @ElonJet bot. Sweeney retaliated by demanding $50,000, but the pair do not appear to have ever struck a deal.

Despite vowing to respect Sweeney’s right to publish the information, Musk banned all of his bots and his personal Twitter account earlier this month, while ADS-B’s Twitter account was similarly deleted. Stephen Watkins is a Canadian Osint researcher who has spent years tracking planes and ships using such publicly available data.

Last year, he worked with a United Nations panel of experts to identify aircraft smuggling weapons into Libya. Simply put, because flight data is publicly available through many different flight trackers, the public has a right to fact-check any statement from any government or private source. Unsurprisingly, there are powerful people who do not want the transparency provided.

Knowing more about where government planes and private planes are going and coming from can yield surprising results. Watkins explains that the CIA’s extrajudicial rendition program, which enabled the arbitrary detention and torture of suspected terrorists, many of whom were innocent, was revealed with the help of open source flight data.

The CIA kidnapped citizens of other countries and flew them on government-chartered jetties to black sites around the world for integration and torture, leaving a trail of data in their wake that they used to send their hostages. could go. This was done to find out which route could be taken.

Researchers used ADS-B data to trace the route taken by the Saudi assassination squad to kill Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Earlier this year, the Saudi government sent a proposal to the International Civil Aviation Organization to encrypt and restrict access to this data. Uncontrolled access to detailed/accurate ADS-B data on the Internet has raised concerns for the safety, security and privacy of flights for aircraft operators and owners.

Why does a country that flies killers around the world want to hide aviation related information from the public for ‘security’ reasons? Watkins says. How strange that Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, a Saudi prince, is the second largest shareholder in Twitter. Musk, the site’s largest owner, is also relying on security concerns as he moves to ban this flight data from his platform.

Announcing a ban on real-time flight data last week, she alleged that a crazed stalker chased a car carrying one of her children. He tweeted that legal action is being taken against organizations that harm Sweeney and my family. Musk has banned the two reporters on Twitter after Washington Post reporters Drew Harwell and Taylor Lorenz said the Los Angeles Police Department saw no connection between the coordinates of their private jet and the alleged stalking.

A Bellingcat contributor geolocated the incident, which Musk recorded and published on Twitter, to a gas station miles away from the airport, possibly in violation of its rules, and close to the time when Musk’s jet last touched down. flew several times. was in the air after the whole day. Given that some of Musk’s critics and online tormentors have air-to-air interception capabilities, and given that airports are some of the most secure places in modern society, the Tesla owner’s security concerns appear high.

Safety, security and privacy seem like noble goals, says Watkins, but there has been no spate of violent attacks on private planes or any aircraft at all and there is no indication that they will. The catch of the musk Almost musk-exclusive Some people have a jet they can call their own and fly wherever they want.


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