The Army Gets Personal

Hey youngsters,

Uncle Sam not only wants you. He's got your number! Not sure yet what you want to do in life? Why not get paid and see an exotic part of the world while you're getting it all together? You could summer in sunny Iraq, where there's never a dull moment.

If you are 16 to 25 years old, chances are you'll soon be receiving such a sales pitch from the Army. How will recruiters find you? Easy. Thanks to a new database secretly bult by the Pentagon, they know where you live. They also know your phone number, your social security number, your email address, your height and weight, your grades in school, your ethnicity...and so much more.

The Pentagon's "Joint Advertising Market Research Studies Division" (did you know they had one of those?) brags that this super-dandy database is "arguably the largest repository of 16-25 year old youth data in the country, containing roughly 30,000,000 records." It includes the names and personal info on 3.1 million graduating high-school seniors and 4.7 million college students : possibly including you or a member of your family. All this is to be used to recruit young folks to fill the troop quotas for George W's war in Iraq.

There are however two little glitches with the Pentagon's sweeping new database. First, it was illegally compiled. Officials began building it three years ago without giving public notice and allowing public comment : a flagrant violation of the Federal Privacy Act.

Second, and more alarming to mothers and fathers, the private database allows recruiters to do a sales job directly on their children in their home.

To help shut down this illegal, intrusive database, call the Electronic Privacy Information Center at 202-483-1140.

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