View Full Version : Privacy advocates assail Pentagon recruit database

06-23-05, 04:49 PM
Privacy advocates assail Pentagon recruit database
By Will Dunham

The Pentagon has created a vast database of millions of Americans as young as age 16, full of personal data such as grades and Social Security numbers, to help find potential military recruits, officials said on Thursday, in a program condemned by privacy advocates.

The database contains information on U.S. high school students ages 16 to 18, college students, and those who have registered with the Selective Service System as required by law in the event a military draft is resumed, the Pentagon said.

The database includes names, birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, individuals' e-mail addresses, ethnicity, telephone numbers, students' grade-point averages, field of academic study and other data, the Pentagon said.

Privacy advocates questioned the database's legality, saying amassing the information ran afoul of the Privacy Act, a law intended to reduce government collection of personal data on Americans.

"The DOD (Department of Defense) proposes to ignore the law and its own regulations by collecting personal information from commercial data brokers and state registries rather than directly from individuals," a statement by a coalition of privacy groups said.

"This database represents an unprecedented foray of the government into direct marketing techniques previously only performed by the private sector," the statement added.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters, "We always worry about privacy issues."


Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said, "We are trying to use appropriate methods to make ourselves competitive in the marketplace for these kids who have a lot of choices. But we are very mindful of their privacy and the anxiety that people have. And we will make sure that we take extra care."

The military is facing recruiting difficulties linked to the Iraq war. The Army has missed recruiting targets in four straight months and is in danger of missing its fiscal 2005 recruiting goal.

Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the Pentagon created the database in 2003 but made the first public disclosure of it in a notice under the Privacy Act published in the May 23 Federal Register.

Krenke attributed the delay in disclosure to a lengthy internal Pentagon review of the notice. The delay appeared to violate the Privacy Act, critics said.

The notice said information in the database can be disclosed outside the Pentagon to law enforcement agencies, taxation authorities and others.

"The program's important because it helps our recruiters in their efforts to recruit a quality force," Krenke said.

BeNOW, a Wakefield, Massachusetts-based marketing company that sifts through huge volumes of information to identify potential customers, is assisting with the database, Krenke said.

Jim Harper, a privacy expert with the Cato Institute, said, "It's a real privacy concern to have the youth of America tracked and targeted by the military this way."

Harper said it was not surprising the Pentagon was trying modern marketing methods. "On the other hand, why are we such a warlike country that we need to have our Defense Department keeping track of every young American for the ostensible purpose of bringing them into the military?" Harper asked.

Krenke said the individual services -- Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines -- previously had their own recruiting databases.

Military recruiters also are accessing data on high school students through provisions of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.

(Additional reporting by Charles Aldinger)


Fox 2/23
06-23-05, 05:04 PM
must be part of the No Conscript Left Behind Act...

Joseph P Carey
06-23-05, 09:44 PM
Originally posted by Fox 2/23
must be part of the No Conscript Left Behind Act...

For the record, there is no draft, but there is a Selctive Service Board, and all males upon their 18th birthday are required to sign up. This is the law.

To track violators or protential criminals is not a violation of privacy. It is no more injurous than the tracking of convicted sex criminals after they have done their time to society (A law passed by liberals I might add).

Where do you stop affording the same protections or the commitments of the law? You can not have one without the other.

It was much easier when their was only ten laws, and everybody knew who you were by reputation.