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The airline can breathe easy: states cannot enforce separate rules on airlines related to price, routes or services, and California court agreed with Delta against the California Attorney General's lawsuit.

Delta Air Lines Inc. won dismissal of a case claiming it violated California’s online privacy law because its mobile-phone application didn’t notify users that personal information, such as their locations, was collected.

The lawsuit was the first brought by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris under the state’s Online Privacy Protection Act since she announced a privacy protocol last year intended to bring the mobile application industry in line with consumer protection rules.

Harris warned Delta in October that it had 30 days to clearly post a privacy policy for its “Fly Delta” app. Available since 2010, the app allows users to check-in online, collects their geo-location, photographs and phone number, Harris said in the complaint. While Harris said Delta’s app didn’t post a conspicuous privacy policy when she sued, it now does, lawyers for both sides said.

Judge Marla Miller in state court in San Francisco agreed today with the airline that the federal Airline Deregulation Act bars states from imposing regulations on airlines related to price, routes or services.

“In this instance it’s services,” Miller said at a hearing. “I think that this case is, in effect, an attempt to apply a state law designed to prevent unfair competition, which regulates an airline’s communication with consumers, and I think it’s pre-empted.”

David Schindler, Atlanta-based Delta’s attorney, said he’s pleased with the ruling.

‘Delta Cares’

“Delta cares about its customers and privacy,” he said in an interview after the ruling.

California Deputy Attorney General Adam Miller said the state wasn’t attempting to tell Delta what the app could do, only what the airline was required to disclose to consumers.

“It knows where I am at all times, and this information is not disclosed to the consumer,” he said at the hearing.

California’s Online Privacy Protection Act requires websites and services that collect personal information to post a conspicuous privacy policy telling consumers what information is being collected and how it will be used. The lawsuit sought penalties of as much as $2,500 for each violation.

“We are reviewing the judge’s ruling and will not have additional comment at this time,” Lynda Gledhill, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said by e-mail.

The case is People of the State of California v. Delta Air Lines Inc., CGC-12-526741, Superior Court of California, San Francisco County (San Francisco).

–Editors: Peter Blumberg, Stephen Farr

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at [email protected].

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at [email protected].

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Tags: delta air lines

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