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NOBODY’S RECRUITS: DATA MINING

Posted by Lisa -

Tue, Sep 15, 2009

Counter-Recruitment

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A now infamous provision of the education bill No Child Left Behind required schools to provide private information like student addresses and phone numbers to military recruiters, or lose federal funding. Families could opt out of this provision — but only if they knew about it. Now comes to light even more ominous and intrusive collection of student data by the Pentagon and its private contractors. Masquerading as test prep web sites or scholarship opportunities, sophisticated marketers stealthily collect data on teens and provide it to recruiters to help them target their recruiting messages.

Mother Jones reported recently that in 2003 the military began building a database on Americans from age 15 up. The creation of Joint Advertising Market Research & Studies (JAMRS) was protested at its inception by peace advocates like AFSC and privacy groups like the ACLU, but nevertheless went on using your tax dollars to create 34 million names database run by Equifax, the friendly folks who provide data on your credit rating. JAMRS connected records from state motor vehicle departments and bureaus, from Selective Service, and from private data brokers who deal in records of consumer behavior.

The New York Civil Liberties Union brought a law suit against JAMRS in 2007, which resulted in a settlement and the Pentagon agreeing to stop collecting social security numbers and sharing them on anyone younger than age 17. According to Mother Jones author David Goodman, “Students may opt out of having their JAMRS database information sent to recruiters, but only 8,700 have invoked this obscure safeguard.”

I’ve written here in the past about the use of the ASVAB test given in high schools across the nation to collect data on students. Test takers can select Option 8 to opt out of that aspect of the test – but only if they know about it.

Preparing for the SAT might be a good way to get into college instead of into uniform, right? Not on the Army’s website March2Success.com. A stealth site run by the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox that collects data on about 17,000 new users each month, the web site offers “free” test taking advice that affluent kids get by paying Kaplan for it. A spokesperson for the Army described the site as  “a great service to schools that normally would cost them.”

A lack of education preparing you for critical thinking may be a prerequisite for failing to understand that $1.2 million spent on developing the March2Success website translates into budget cuts again this year for public schools across the nation.

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  • Bryan Newman

    Did you look into this at all prior to writing this post?

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