August 24, 2004 | By Donna Wentworth

Army Okays Computer Spying

JetBlue ignited a huge privacy scandal when the news broke that the airline secretly provided more than 5 million passenger records to Torch Concepts, a military contractor. Yet the Army Inspector General Agency concluded [PDF] that JetBlue did not violate the Privacy Act. The reason: Torch never looked up individuals by name, but instead used a computer to dig through and analyze their private information.

The Privacy Act specifically bars the government from creating secret databases that track people by name and social security number. But the Army contends that Torch didn't create this kind of system. Torch employees didn't search for individuals; a Torch computer crunched data. "The evidence indicated that Torch neither created nor maintained a system of records as defined by the Privacy Act of 1974," reads the report. "There was no evidence that Torch retrieved individual records from the databases...by name or by any other identifying particular at any time in the course of the study."

So according to the Army Inspector General report, Big Brother is a-okay -- as long as the government outsources the dirty work to a computer.

For more information, see this Wired article and the Army Inspector General's redcacted report [PDF], obtained by Wired under the Freedom of Information Act.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

Happening now: TPP negotiators trading away our digital rights in the backrooms of a luxury hotel in Maui. https://eff.org/r.zr7c

Jul 28 @ 6:11pm

We're calling on the Copyright Office to ask USTR to re-think its copyright term proposals in TPP. Join us: https://eff.org/r.4etj

Jul 28 @ 4:41pm

Ethiopian PM Desalegn promised reform, but the country has a long way to go on civil liberties: https://eff.org/r.rl7b

Jul 28 @ 3:37pm
JavaScript license information