Saturday, June 25, 2005

Still another database to keep track of your child

Now that parents are waking up to the existence of the NCLB legislated database, our good government has decided to create abrand new military recruiting database, separate from the NCLB database.

I know lots have been written about this already, but I want to highlight a few singular features .

1. Unlike the NCLB database, you really can't get your kids off this one even though you can request a preference not to be contacted. Regarding the personal information itself, there is no opting out, no loopholes, no nothing. That's right, parents, your kid's info still remains in the database unless you have the luxury to be able to pay for private education.
2. There is no privacy policy, and privacy protections are very weak.
3. The proposal is to use the info for "routine uses" unrelated to military recruitment.
4. They want to collect: SSN, email addresses, ethnicity, and other personal info.

Mark Rotenberg, on Democracy Now:
I mean, there have been a lot of conflicting statements, even at the press conference last evening when they were talking about the database. They said on the one hand, it was not going to be used to call recruits directly until someone pointed out that, in fact, they were collecting telephone numbers. So they’re having a bit of difficulty, I think, you know, getting the story straight.

But one of the important things about the Privacy Act, and this really does go to your question, is that it requires the federal agencies to explain how they propose to use the information.

So the Department of Defense says that in the first instance the information will be used for recruiting purposes, and then they set out what are called the Privacy Act Exceptions. And they list 13 different categories of additional use of the information, including a possible use for law enforcement purposes. They have, in effect, by this notice already announced that they reserve the right to use all of this data that they're collecting for law enforcement purposes and to transfer to law enforcement agencies.
Makes the mind reel with the possibilities, eh?

If you are alarmed as I am about this proposal, hop on over to your Congressperson's site and let them know about your concerns.

To make it easier on them, send them these questions they can ask for you:
*Why cannot this database be administered by government employees, who are subject to civil and criminal penalties under the Privacy Act for misuse of personal information?
*How will the DOD exercise adequate supervision over the employees of this private company?
*What qualifies the employees of this company to handle the SSNs of tens of millions *How can we trust that the employees of this company will not misuse the data?
*How can we trust that this company has appropriate administrative, physical, and electronic safeguards to prevent and detect misuse of the data?
*If a security breach does occur, will individuals receive notice, as is required when a bank inappropriately gives access to customer information?
*How will individuals obtain an auditing of disclosures of their personal information?
Oh, and you can still sign the NCLB petition for Mike Honda's HR 551, which alters NCLB so you have to give permission to the government in order to get your child on their list.

Update: Jonathan at mesoj was on to this way before I was.