LOS ANGELES - Over the last several months the ACLU of Southern California has been working with countless parents, students and teachers who are deeply concerned about extreme efforts to recruit their children to the military. In order to meet its goals, the government since 2002 has required public high schools to turn over students' personal data to the Pentagon as a condition of receiving federal funding.
Now it has been revealed that the Pentagon is working with a private company to create a behemoth database that contains even more highly personal information including children's social security number, ethnicity, grade-point average, age, e-mail address and even the courses they are studying.
Parents concerned about the strong-arm tactics the military is using to send their children to war have been calling for a more fair approach where they help decide the appropriate path to take after graduating from high school. The Pentagon's latest action recklessly disregards this and instead mandates the collection of ever-more detailed dossiers of American teens' personal information.
Also, the Pentagon in its Federal Register notice about this "system of records" has reserved the right to share these student dossiers for numerous purposes that have nothing to do with military recruitment, including law enforcement. That means sensitive information about the lives of millions of innocent students - including the keys to identity theft like social security numbers - may now end up in the files of not just the Pentagon but a host of public and private parties.
We understand the Pentagon is not meeting its recruitment goals, but collecting such information about high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students is an egregious violation of privacy and personal freedom.