By Shain Roche
Oracle Corporation, an international computer technology company that is spearheading cloud technology development and other avant-garde technology developments, is on the verge of introducing yet another groundbreaking technology. The California-based corporation has announced its plan to help create a “’connected travel’ e-marketplace for buying travel tickets and services, and a ‘virtual travel assistant’ to help travelers to enjoy a smoother, more timely journey. As part of a partially European Union-funded development project, Oracle, in collaboration with companies like Logica, TeleAtlas, Navteq, and Amadeus, will be researching and developing this connected travel technology known as “i-Travel”. The goal of i-Travel is to create, using cloud technology, a web-based travel technology framework that will allow the user to plan, book and carry out their travel plans using just one secure online service. Additionally, i-Travel will offer a virtual travel assistant which will continually monitor weather conditions, potential delays, and even offer alternative transportation methods if necessary.
Oracle states that a lot of the technology needed to initiate i-Travel is already in place today. Travelers today already use online methods of planning and booking, condition checking and alternative plan making. However, Oracle points out that the issue with these technologies is that there is not an efficient method for the user to simultaneously use them, and that is where i-Travel comes into play. I-Travel will allow its users to book their hotel, flight, and train tickets; check weather and other travel conditions; calculate delays; and receive constant updates regarding their journey without having to surf from site to site, instead of by relying on their virtual travel assistant. Oracle claims that the result will be an “intelligent, proactive, ‘total travel service’ that can be used for simple and complex journeys alike – and which will learn about the travelers’ preferences over time so that journeys can be made even simpler in the future.”
In line with some of the most pressing ethical and legal issues today, security of the traveler’s data within the proposed global e-marketplace proposes some legal implications on the project. For example, as the technology is partially funded by the EU, i-Travel’s data security measures will have to meet the requirements of regulations like the EU’s Data Protection Directive. The Data Protection Directive presents issues like obtaining consent (and further obtaining consent from minors), presenting the purposes of processing user data, informing the user who will be receiving the data, and other various personal rights pertaining to the traveler. The Data Protection Directive requires that all “data controllers,” the entities collecting the data, must maintain state of the art data protection features, which will present a significant cost to the operation of i-Travel.
Moreover, international travel implications may slow the process of i-Travel’s global implementation. The Data Protection Directive prohibits the transfer of personal data to a country outside of the EEA (European Economic Area) unless that country confirms that it will provide an adequate level of protection of the data. As of December 20, 2017, the EEA’s list of countries to have been designated as adequate for the purpose of protecting personal data is extremely short, and most of the non-European countries that one might expect to be on the list are not. The United States, for example, is left off, and Canada is listed as adequate only “on certain conditions.” With the seriousness of the data involved in keeping track of passports, travel visas, etc. within a global online marketplace, countries outside the EEA that wish to implement i-Travel into their transportation systems will have serious security measures to meet.
With such high standards to meet, it leaves one to wonder whether i-Travel may be a technological advancement that is left to benefit the European continent exclusively, or if it will somehow be expanded to global use and implementation, despite the complex legal concerns.
Student Bio: Shain Roche is a second-year student at Suffolk University Law School and a staff member of the Journal of High Technology. His interests are in Real Estate and Trusts & Estates law. Shain holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are the views of the author alone and do not represent the views of JHTL or Suffolk University Law School.