Background on the Pentagon's illegal database
According to the Pentagon Public Affairs office (at 703-428-0711), JAMRS is the organization formed by the Pentagon to oversee the development of a database of 30 million 16-25-year-olds, including name, address, email addresses, cell phone numbers, ethnicity, social security numbers and areas of study. This database is updated daily and distributed monthly to the Armed Services for recruitment purposes. You may "opt out" of this list in writing at the address above, and your child's information will be moved to a "suppression file." The Pentagon retains the information, but does not release it.
NOTE: The Department of Defense was initially requiring a social security number, but has backed off that requirement. They have also agreed to get the Opt Out information up on their site and establish an information-only 800# with prerecorded instructions re: opting out, pending approval. They have had a storm of inquiries over the past week, and say they are looking at other ways to improve the process.
The Pentagon's Public Affairs Office read to us from a memo that the military branches had been collecting this data for years, and only contracted with the private marketing firm BeNow in 2002 to begin "consolidating the data for greater efficiency." Perhaps this is the rationale the Pentagon felt they could use to end-run the Privacy Act, which requires notification and public comment whenever new data is being compiled on individuals by any branch of government. The LeaveMyChildAlone.org coalition believes that any database being "updated daily" is certainly collecting new data on our kids, and therefore falls under the notification requirements of the Privacy Act.
For more information, go to the JAMRS website: www.jamrs.org.
The LeaveMyChildAlone.org coalition is urging the Pentagon to add 800# and online Opt Out options for parents and students. However, the fact that the data is maintained in a "suppression file" hardly grants parents peace of mind. With recent reports of massive security breaches at data firms, the fact that such detailed information about our sons and daughters has been in use for 3 years without parental consent or knowledge is troubling.
Act up, act now:
Contact your Representative and tell him or her to investigate this violation of the privacy act and scrap the illegal database. Take action through ActforChange.com. - you'll find a draft email you can send to your local legislator.
Phone in your family privacy concerns to the Pentagon (703-428-0711).