Information about the JAMRS Database

In 2005, the Pentagon announced in the Federal Register the existence of the JAMRS Database-a massive registry of 30 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 25 for military recruitment purposes. First authorized in 2002, the JAMRS program collects information on young people from a variety of sources, including the Selective Service, Departments of Motor Vehicles, and commercial data brokers.

The Defense Act of 1982 gave the Department of Defense permission to gather information for recruitment purposes but set limits on what type of information could be maintained. For example, the Defense Act limited the database to only include students over 17 years old or in the eleventh grade or higher, only contain "directory information" (i.e. name, school, contact info), and only allowed the Pentagon to keep the information for a maximum of three years.

In practice, the JAMRS database violated the Defense Act in a number of troubling ways. The JAMRS database included much more than directory information: the Department of Defense was collecting phone numbers, mailing addresses, e-mail addresses, social security numbers, racial and ethnic data, grade point averages, college intentions, and height and weight information. Also, the database included all sixteen-year-olds and the Department of Defense was keeping information for five years.

In response to these violations, the NYCLU filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense in 2006 (Hanson v. Rumsfeld) which resulted in a settlement forcing the DoD to stop collecting Social Security Numbers, keep student information for only three years, restrict the ages of students included in the database, and maintain better privacy standards for student information. Also, the Department of the Defense clarified the procedure for opting out of the database.

While the JAMRS database still has many troubling implications for students' privacy, there is a way to keep the military from harassing you or your child.

Click here to download a JAMRS Opt-Out Form. (Word document)