Informational Privacy in the United States Marine Corps (USMC)
Sgt Karen A Holliday, USMC
Trident University International
In my honest opinion the thought of informational privacy within the military is a sort of oxymoron. Although huge strides have been taken to put in place more secure methods of information storage, the military lags far behind their civilian counterparts in this department. There are many policies under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in regards to the informational privacy protection of service members. The problem is not in the policy, it is in the enforcement and adherence to these policies.
When asked to write on this issue, there is one instance of complete disregard to informational privacy that stood out in my mind. About a year ago, I was attending annual training in the Marine Corps. We were all in a theatre and the ...view middle of the document...
I was ignored and the days training went on as scheduled.
It wasn’t until we were receiving our annual training on Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that I absolutely lost it on these rosters that were circulating. How could we be about to receive training on how to protect Marines PII when such a PII violation was taking place? Luckily, a Colonel was in the back of the training theatre and had final had enough of what was transpiring. He grabbed the roster and the SSgt and left the room. The situation was resolved, but not before any Marine could have stolen any fellow Marine’s SSN’s and opened credit cards, taken out loans, and who knows what else.
While this situation was completely improper, I know that it is not an isolated one. I don’t know if it is laziness or just ignorance, but we are constantly using full SSN’s in the military. I just recently had to fill out an application of sort for an officer program. My full SSN was all over this application, and it must have crossed at least 20 people’s desks before it got sent off. There has to be a better way, and I know the military is working on it, but it needs to become more of a priority.
One instance that I can say is a sort of improvement that the military is making is the removal of the SSN from our identification cards. For years, anyone who saw this card could plainly see that members full SSN. They have replaced it with a different sort of identification number. While this is a big step, it should have been done years ago. In the civilian world, this is a common change that has been made. Many states already use this sort of “identification” number as opposed to an SSN on your driver’s license.
Looking at these situations in a normative ethics manner one could say that the Marines in question were not acting in ways that would imply that they were acting how they should morally. These Marines knew they were in violation and just continued to go along their merry way with no regard to other Marine’s privacy. It was corrected, but it took an individual with rank (the Col) to resolve it.