Organizations Urge Rumsfeld to Shelve Controversial Recruiting Database

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

OCTOBER 18, 2005
1:30 PM

CONTACT:   Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Nancy Talanian, Director
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Northampton, Massachusetts


Organizations Urge Rumsfeld to Shelve Controversial Recruiting Database

WASHINGTON – More than one hundred national, state, and local organizations sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the oversight and appropriations committees for the Department of Defense (DOD), seeking an end to a database recruitment project called the Joint Advertising and Market Research Studies (JAMRS) Recruiting Database. The database unduly compromises the privacy of 30 million U.S. residents between the ages of 16 and 25.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) supports this effort because, with the JAMRS recruitment database, the military is attempting to use private companies to gather information on U.S. residents, as a means to short-circuit the Privacy Act’s prohibitions regarding the government’s collection and use of private information.

“Government agencies, including the DOD, have legitimate needs for information about U.S. residents, but they also have a legal obligation to observe laws enacted to protect people’s privacy,” said Nancy Talanian, BORDC’s director. “When Congress passed the Privacy Act, its intention was not that the government should turn instead to the private sector for unlimited personal information without prohibitions on how it may be used.”

The letter to Secretary Rumsfeld states that the signers support the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services, but that they strongly object to the DOD decision to create the JAMRS database for several reasons, including the lack of proper notice to the public, the unnecessarily comprehensive information to be included, and the fact that parties who provided the information were not warned of the military recruiting purpose.

The DOD was required by the Privacy Act to provide notice 30-days before beginning their work on the Joint Advertising and Marketing Research Studies recruiting database in 2002. The federal agency delayed making public notice of this project until a Federal Register notice published on May 23, 2005.

The sources of information for the DOD database include the High School Master File and the College Students Files, which are compiled for purposes that are unrelated to an interest in military service or recruitment. The High School Master File is created from information provided by state motor vehicle departments, and the commercial brokers American Student List and Student Marketing Group.

American Student List sells databases of children’s names in grades K-12 overlaid with data on sex, age, whether they own a telephone, income, religion, and their race or ethnicity. This information is often obtained from surveys that are administered while children are at school, under the pretense of education-related purposes.

The letter’s signers, known as the Dump the DOD Database Coalition, are working to end the JAMRS database to protect the civil liberties, including privacy rights, of this generation of young people.


MEDIA ADVISORY: Press Teleconference Tuesday, October 18, 1:30 PM EDT

Who: Dump the Database Coalition

What: Press Teleconference to announce a national effort to end the DOD’s Database Recruitment Project

When: Tuesday, October 18, 2005, 1:30 PM EDT

Dial: 512-225-3050, Access Code 65889#

Background: More than 100 local, state, and national organizations are sending a letter to Department of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld demanding and end to the Joint Advertising and Market Research Studies (JAMRS) Recruiting Database. Participating groups will also send the letter to Hill Committees and members of Congress to alert them to this effort to protect the privacy of a generation of young people living in this nation. The database creates a single central facility within the DOD to compile, process and distribute files on individuals that would contain the personal information of 30 million U.S. residents who are 16-25 years of age. The creation of the JAMRS database is in conflict with the Privacy Act, which was passed by Congress to reduce the government’s collection of personal information on Americans.

Please RSVP via e-mail ( your intention to participate in the Press Teleconference.

For more information see: http://www.eorg/privacystudent/doddatabase.html

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