WASHINGTON (TND) — Lawyers for pop culture juggernaut Taylor Swift sent Jack Sweeney, a 21-year-old software engineer and student at the University of Central Florida, a cease and desist letter urging him to cease operation social media accounts that track her private jet.
The news, first reported by the Washington Post, was corroborated by CNN Tuesday afternoon after Sweeney confirmed the receipt of the letter.
Sweeney came to public prominence for programming and operating a fleet of social media accounts that compile data about the flights of certain celebrities' private jets and then post the information, such as take off and touch down location, duration and flight path. Data sources he draws from include publicly available flight data from the Federal Aviation Administration and signal tracking by individual aviation enthusiasts.
Despite the largely public, if not widely known about, nature of his sources, Swift's lawyers are threatening him with legal action if he continues to post -- at time of writing, the accounts appear to be offline.
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,” attorney Katie Wright Morrone in the letter sent to Sweeney's parent, according to outlets that have seen the letter like the Post and CNN.
Morrone further argued that, due to the numerous threats and stalkers Swift has had to deal with, Sweeney's work has contributed to "imminent threat to the safety and wellbeing" of Swift and given such bad actors a potential "roadmap to carry out their plans.”
She added there is “no legitimate interest in or public need for this information, other than to stalk, harass, and exert dominion and control," and that failure to suspend his tracking of her client's jet would leave Swift "no choice but to pursue any and all legal remedies available to her.”
Sweeney told CNN he did not intent to cause harm with his work and reiterated that he only compiles and publishes public information and that he believes "in transparency and public information.
This is not the first time the UCF student has run afoul of a celebrity who took exception to having their public flight data published on social media.
Then Twitter (now X) CEO Elon Musk banned Sweeney's account devoted to tracking his private jet in December of 2022 following an incident where a stalker follow Musk's two-year-old son (thinking Musk was in the car). The SpaceX and Tesla CEO sought to buy off Sweeney before the ban, offering him $5,000 to take the account down in 2021. Sweeney's counter offer included a request of $50,000 and an internship.
Public interest in Sweeney's work -- which also tracks the flights of celebrities like Tom Cruise, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Kenny Chesney, among others -- has also increased around the data he publishes noting how much CO2 admission each flight expels into the atmosphere.