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At Feds’ request, GoGo in-flight Wi-Fi service added more spying capabilities


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A prominent privacy activist has discovered a previously little-known filing with the Federal Communications Commission showing that GoGo, an in-flight Wi-Fi provider, has voluntarily done more to share user data with law enforcement than what is required. While GoGo and its competitors must follow the same wiretap provisions outlined in the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), Chris Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union recently found that GoGo takes its information volunteering further.

Soghoian tweeted a link to a July 2012 letter submitted from a GoGo attorney to the FCC, which states:

The Commission’s ATG [air-to-ground] rules do not require licensees to implement capabilities to support law enforcement beyond those outlined in CALEA. Nevertheless, GoGo worked with federal agencies to reach agreement regarding a set of additional capabilities to accommodate law enforcement interests. GoGo then implemented those functionalities into its system design.

GoGo's willingness to go beyond the legal requirements of the CALEA is bolstered by its terms of service, which indicate that activating in-flight Wi-Fi authorizes GoGo to “disclose your Personal Information… if we believe in good faith that such disclosure is necessary” to “comply with relevant laws or to respond to subpoenas or warrants served on us” or to “protect or defend the rights, property, or safety of GoGo, you, other users, or third parties.”

GoGo says that its "primary concession" to law enforcement demands was to impose a CAPTCHA challenge to thwart spammers and other network abuse. However this explanation makes little sense as the GoGo network is only accessible from an aircraft that has exceeded 10,000 feet—its users are by definition limited to those on the plane.

“GoGo does what all airborne connectivity companies have been asked to do from a security perspective, and it has nothing to do with monitoring traffic," Steve Nolan, a GoGo spokesperson, told Ars on Wednesday.

Nolan further acknowledged to Wired that there are "secondary concessions" the company made, which would seem to encompass the "additional capabilities to accommodate law enforcement interests" mentioned in the 2012 letter to the FCC.

The GoGo spokesperson did not immediately respond to Ars' requests for further clarification on Thursday morning.


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