High schoolers may have been able to fend off their funny Uncle Sam this winter, but the NYCLU is not convinced that he’s gone for good. In January 2007, the Department of Defense (DoD) agreed to soften its military recruiting practices in high schools, in response to a lawsuit the NYCLU brought on behalf of several students. The controversy arose in 2005, when the DoD began using a high-powered database to collect, store and distribute students’ personal and private information for recruiting purposes. Critics took particular offense to special targeting of African-American and Latino students, by recruiters. See our cover story here.
In 1982, Congress passed a recruitment law intended to be a compromise between the military and the privacy advocates. It required recruiters to keep student information private and use it strictly for recruiting purposes. They had to discard the data, which could only include basic contact and educational information, after three years. The NYCLU contends that the DoD violated those restrictions when it began using JAMRS (the Joint Advertising and Market research Studies database) in 2005, by giving the data to law enforcement, intelligence and other agencies, holding on to it for five years, and attempting to collect much more than educational and contact information for (italic)every(italic) high school kid in the U.S.A. The NYCLU got involved after a Hunter College High School student who could not get her name off of recruiting lists and databases contacted them.
In March and April of 2007, the NYCLU, a coalition of nonprofits and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s office surveyed New York City high school students to learn more about military recruiting in New York City schools. Today the borough president and the NYCLU will release their findings and make recommendations for the Department of Education on how to protect student privacy rights, outside the Tweed Courthouse at 11 a.m.
Photo courtesy of imamon on Flickr