ACLU Mining For Data on its Members

It’s not a great example of Christian charity, but I confess I enjoy watching the ACLU squirm:

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.

Some board members say the extensive data collection makes a mockery of the organization’s frequent criticism of banks, corporations and government agencies for their practice of accumulating data on people for marketing and other purposes.

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.

The issue has attracted the attention of the New York attorney general, who is looking into whether the group violated its promises to protect the privacy of its donors and members.

“It is part of the A.C.L.U.’s mandate, part of its mission, to protect consumer privacy,” said Wendy Kaminer, a writer and A.C.L.U. board member. “It goes against A.C.L.U. values to engage in data-mining on people without informing them. It’s not illegal, but it is a violation of our values. It is hypocrisy.”

I generally disagree with the ACLU’s position on, well, everything, but it’s to the credit of the members that complained. Too often we care more about “winning” than the principles for which we went to war in the first place.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


UA-2941127-3