Kate Hanni, the founder of the passenger advocacy group FlyersRights.org, has filed a lawsuit against Delta Airlines in which she claims they hacked her email account and acquired personal email messages sent between her, some journalists, and a guy who was at the time working for Metron, a company hired by the FAA to investigate Delta.
From the Houston Chronicle:
It started a couple of months ago with a laptop that inexplicably crashed.
Then, someone altered the password on Kate Hanni’s desktop computer and when she finally got into it, the files were corrupted.
Microsoft’s tech support said she’d been hacked. A few weeks later, all her e-mail disappeared, and AOL told her the same thing.
According to the Airline Biz blog at the Dallas Morning News, this September 29th statement by Frederick J. Foreman, a former employee of Metron forms the core of Hanni’s claims:
“On Friday, September 25, 2009 at approximately 10:00 AM, I was escorted by two (2) Metron Aviation, Inc. employees into the office of Mr. James Gaughan, Senior Vice-President and General Manager.
Mr. Gaughan asked me to go over the chronology of my interaction with the media. I told him my interaction with the media as I remembered it. He told me that what I told him was not consistent with information that he had. I responded by asking what are you talking about? He immediately said that I had contact with Ms. Kate Hanni on Thursday, September 24, 2009. I said yes I did but Kate Hanni is not the media so that my statements about the chronology of events are correct.
Mr. Gaughan proceeded to show me on his computer monitor what appeared to be hacked and stolen email communications within the last six (6) months or more between Kate Hanni and me, me and Gary Stoller of USA Today, me and Susan Stellin, a freelance reporter, and Kate Hanni and a number of people concerning the Passenger Bill of Rights, excessive surface delays, and other private communications.
It was clear that they had email transactions from both of my private email accounts: Hotmail (eckmaster12 [at] msn.com) and Yahoo (eckmaster [at] mmi-gov.com). It was also clear that these emails were from Kate Hanni’s private and personal email account (katcrew4 [at] aol.com), as well as from Gary Stoller’s (gstoller [at] usatoday.com) private USA Today account, and Susan Stellin’s (stellin [at] earthlink.net) private and personal email account.
There were no emails communications from Metron Aviation’s email system only communications from information that I gave her as fuel for getting the Passenger Bill of Rights passed in Congress.
He said that Delta Airlines sent this information to them. I took this to mean that Delta Airlines and Metron Aviation both had a copy of these hacked and stolen email communications. Mr. Gaughan said that Delta was mad and upset that one of Metron Aviation’s employees had provided Kate Hanni with this kind of information. He said that I had put Metron Aviation in a precarious situation with Delta Airlines and that at a minimum I had not been a good employee by doing this. I tried to explain to him that what I sent to Kate Hanni on 9-25-2009 could be obtained by anyone by simply analyzing the public information that is available online and provided by the Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation and Statistics, but to no avail.
Based on these hacked and stolen email communications, James Gaughan of Metron Aviation, Inc. decided to terminate my employment. The two (2) Metron Aviation escorts took me to my desk where I got my personal belongings and then they escorted me out of the building at approximately 12:15 PM.”
Delta says the accusation is “clearly without merit,” and Metron says the accusation is “completely baseless and without merit.” Hanni is seeking $11 million in damages from Delta.
“Has Delta been hacking?” [Houston Chronicle]
“Consumer activist Kate Hanni accuses Delta of hacking her email, computer” [Airline Biz]
(Photo: Hong Kong dear Edward)