Thursday, December 01, 2005

It Depends On What You Mean By Privacy

In the past, I have mentioned how the ACLU seems to pick and choose those rights it will defend and in some cases only defend if the aggrieved party and/or right is popular with their supporters. I have written before about their duplicity and prejudice for example here and here. So, I give you one more example of the ACLU's hypocrisy. This incident occurred last year. One has to believe that much of the aggressiveness of this organization would be better spent policing its own internal politics and decision makers rather than making life miserable for innocent bystanders.

If the American Civil Liberties Union is the protector of our privacy and is so critical of government agencies and corporations accumulating data on people then why was it using sophisticated technology to collect a wide variety of information about its members and donors? This was not something that applied to major contributors but donors who gave as little as $20 were ensnared.

Last Year, Anthony Romero, its executive director, registered the ACLU for a federal charity drive that required it to certify that it would not knowingly employ people whose names were on government terrorism watch lists.

The day after The New York Times exposed its participation, the organization withdrew from the charity drive and, of course, later filed a lawsuit to contest the watch list requirement.

The data collection practices were implemented without the ACLU board's approval or knowledge, and were in violation of the ACLU's own privacy policy.

According to Michael Meyers, vice president of the organization, he learned about the new research by accident during a committee meeting. He objected to the practices, and the next day the privacy policy on the group's Web site was changed. "They took out all the language that would show that they were violating their own policy," Meyers said. "In doing so, they sanctified their procedure while still keeping it secret."

Sounds like someone on the inside noticed the emperor had no clothes.

Read more at The New York Times.

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