ACLU Privacy Scandal:
Have you heard about the powerful international organization that engages in invasive, Big Brother-esque data mining; creates digital dossiers on people in violation of their own privacy policies; does all of this with no oversight and no judical review; and when challenged, tries to cover-up its practices? Would you believe that the organization is the ACLU? According to The New York Times:
The American Civil Liberties Union is using sophisticated technology to collect a wide variety of information about its members and donors in a fund-raising effort that has ignited a bitter debate over its leaders' commitment to privacy rights.The New York Attorney General is on the case:
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Daniel S. Lowman, vice president for analytical services at Grenzebach Glier & Associates, the data firm hired by the A.C.L.U., said the software the organization is using, Prospect Explorer, combs a broad range of publicly available data to compile a file with information like an individual's wealth, holdings in public corporations, other assets and philanthropic interests.
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Mr. [Michael] Meyers[, vice-president of the ACLU,] said he learned on Nov. 7 that the A.C.L.U.'s data collection practices went far beyond previous efforts. "If I give the A.C.L.U. $20, I have not given them permission to investigate my partners, who I'm married to, what they do, what my real estate holdings are, what my wealth is, and who else I give my money to," he said.
In a Dec. 3 letter, Mr. Spitzer's office informed the A.C.L.U. that it was conducting an inquiry into whether the group had violated its promises to protect the privacy of donors and members.How did the ACLU respond to scrutiny of its practices? Not particularly well, it turns out: