TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: A.C.L.U.'s Search for Data on Donors Stirs Privacy Fears

A.C.L.U.'s Search for Data on Donors Stirs Privacy Fears

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 18 Dec 2004 14:29:07 -0500


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.

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