A new study shows that it is easy to purchase military members’ information online.
According to a Duke University study published on Monday, personal information regarding active-duty U.S. service members is cheap, easy to buy and advertised by data brokers who sell Americans’ data.
Researchers involved in the study claimed they purchased multiple varieties of data including names, addresses, phone numbers and family information such as children’s names of the service member.
They also stated they bought almost 50,000 service members’ records for just over $10,000.
With the study being shown to Senators they claimed there must be a need for action because this constitutes a national security risk.
This report further solidifies the need to address this gaping hole in the protection of U.S. service members,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, (R-La.) “We must act in the interest of national security and protect those who defend our nation.”
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), said the findings are “a sobering wake-up call for policy makers that the data broker industry is out of control and poses a serious threat to U.S. national security.”
Additionally, the study revealed that over 500 data broker sites advertised information on military personnel.
The researchers said they were “shocked” by how easy it was to access the information.
“In practice, it seems as though anyone with an email address, a bank account, and a few hundred dollars could acquire the same type of data that we did,” Hayley Barton, a coauthor of the study and a graduate student researcher, told MIT Technology Review in an email.
Experts believe this could be a potential national security risk because the information could be used by foreign spies to court Americans with access to state secrets.
“Information on people that you don’t want being approached by foreign intelligence services being reasonably easy to acquire is not a good situation,” Jeff Asher, a former CIA officer, told NBC News.
“And not to sound like a broken record, but our country desperately needs a comprehensive consumer privacy law here, to limit the collection, retention and sale of sensitive personal information from the start,” Wyden said.