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Military Database Violates Student Privacy Rights, NYCLU Says

The New York Civil Liberties Union expressed deep concern about the recent revelation that the Pentagon is working with a private company to create information dossiers on millions of American college and high school students as young as 16 for the purpose of military recruiting. This goes well beyond the scope of a military recruiting database authorized by Congress in 2002 and also violates the Privacy Act of 1974 that prohibits the government from maintaining extensive files on private individuals who are not suspected of wrongdoing. This reported use by the Pentagon of a private database company goes beyond what the law allows.

“The Pentagon has no business compiling and maintaining a massive database of student information in violation of the guidelines set forth in the National Defense Appropriation Act, the No Child Left Behind Act and the Privacy Act,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “The NYCLU has received a number of reports of aggressive bullying tactics by the military recruiters, but the revelations about this unauthorized database expose the most massive and systematic violation to date. The military is engaged in an end run around the law and the NYCLU is examining legal options to put an end to this practice.”

The Pentagon in its Federal Register notice on this “system of records” has reserved the right to share these student dossiers for numerous purposes that have nothing to do with military recruitment, including law enforcement. The net result is that sensitive information about the lives of millions of innocent students (including the keys to identity theft like social security numbers) may now end up in the files of not just the Pentagon but a host of public and private parties.

“What is especially troubling about this development is that the military will have access to extensive data on even those students who have specified that their personal information be withheld from the military for purposes of recruiting,” said Jeff Fogel, staff attorney of the NYCLU.

The Pentagon’s actions may well lead many young people to question service with a military that abuses its own authority.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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