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Taylor Swift threatened to sue the college student who tracks her private jet

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Taylor Swift has threatened to take legal action against the college student who tracks her private jet and manages social-media accounts that publish its flights.

The pop star’s lawyer sent Jack Sweeney — a University of Central Florida student who first made headlines for tracking Elon Musk’s private jets — a cease-and-desist letter in December, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

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The notice, which Sweeney confirmed to Business Insider that he had received, called for him to stop “stalking and harassing behavior” and said the jet tracking had caused Swift to live in a “constant state of fear for her personal safety,” the Post said.

“While this may be a game to you, or an avenue that you hope will earn you wealth or fame, it is a life-or-death matter for our Client. Ms. Swift has dealt with stalkers and other individuals who wish her harm,” the letter said, according to the Post.

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It also seemed to reference Sweeney’s past dispute with Elon Musk about the jet-tracking accounts.

“We are aware of your public disputes with other high-profile individuals and your tactics in those interactions, including offering to stop your harmful behavior only in exchange for items of value,” the letter said.

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Sweeney told BI that he appreciates Swift’s music and has no intention of harming those he tracks. He said he curates the accounts for “transparency and public information.”

Sweeney has also tracked a number of celebrities and billionaire jets, including Mark Zuckerberg and Tom Cruise.

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“I think the people are interested,” Sweeney told BI over text. “You should have a decent expectation that your jet will be tracked, whether or not I do it as, after all, it is public information.”

In response to the letter, the Post reported that Sweeney reached out to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that connected him with James Slater, an attorney based in Florida.

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Slater told the publication Swift’s letter was “unfounded.” In his response to Swift’s legal team, the attorney said Sweeney had “engaged in protected speech that does not violate any of Ms. Swift’s legal rights,” according to the Post.

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Tree Paine, a spokesperson for Swift, declined to comment to BI but told the Post: “His posts tell you exactly when and where she would be.”

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Sweeney uses something called ADS-B to broadcast an aircraft’s whereabouts online, which is publicly available information.

This has prompted people like Swift to sign up for the Federal Aviation Administration’s free privacy programs as a way to cloak their private planes by blocking the data from being shown on websites like FlightAware and Flightradar24.

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However, because ADS-B data is not sourced from the FAA, planes can still be tracked — and Sweeney uses this loophole.

Swift has faced backlash for her private jet travel, even topping a list of celebrities whose private planes emitted the most carbon in 2022. Last year, BI reported that the singer’s private jets spent over 166 hours in flight during the initial US leg of her Eras tour.

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Sweeney told BI he felt Swift’s team had sent the letter in response to “bad headlines for her about carbon emissions.” Swift’s spokesperson previously told BI the singer had purchased carbon credits to offset her jet use.

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This is not the first time Sweeney has faced pushback from celebrities over his jet-tracking habits.

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In early 2022, Elon Musk offered the college student $5,000 to delete his @elonjet account on social media, saying he was concerned the account would cause him to be “shot by a nutcase.” Mark Cuban also expressed similar concerns.

The rising popularity of jet-tracking on social media, however, prompted Musk to threaten legal action against Sweeney in 2022 after he claimed the aircraft-tracking account had led to an incident with his three-year-old son.

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Musk took aim at Sweeney on Tuesday.

“Sweeney is an awful human being,” the billionaire wrote on X. “Taylor Swift is right to be concerned.”

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Read the original article on Business Insider.

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