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Personal data of US troops for sale: Senators call for regulation


A study from Duke University revealed that data brokers are selling the personal information of U.S. service members at shockingly low prices. This has raised significant national security concerns, prompting U.S. senators to call for regulatory action.

According to the study, researchers acquired nearly 50,000 records of service members for just over $10,000, with individual data sometimes costing as little as 12 cents. This data included basic contact information as well as sensitive details such as children’s names, marital status, net worth, and credit scores.

Senators demand action

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have voiced serious concerns about these findings. Cassidy emphasized the need to protect those who defend the nation, while Wyden described the situation as a “sobering wake-up call,” highlighting the out-of-control nature of the data broker industry.

A policy gap in privacy regulation

Justin Sherman, a fellow at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, noted a significant oversight in privacy regulation discussions. They often overlook the national security angle. The study also uncovered over 500 websites that sell information on service members, some even offering data pinpointing military personnel’s locations, posing a risk to U.S. security. Foreign spies could exploit this data to target Americans with access to sensitive information.

International comparisons and U.S. legislation

While the European Union enforces strict data privacy regulations, the U.S. has struggled to pass a comprehensive data privacy law. Current U.S. regulations only cover specific sectors, leaving a significant gap in the protection of service members’ data.

A call for urgent regulation

The study’s findings have ignited a heated debate on data privacy and national security. With U.S. intelligence agencies also purchasing commercially available information, the need for oversight and regulation has become critical. Senators and policymakers are now grappling with how to protect U.S. service members and ensure national security.

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