The Vietnam Veterans of America went to court filing a lawsuit against the Defense Department. The group alleged that the website had information related to veterans’ and service members’ records which is a violation of the privacy rights. This makes the veterans and the service members susceptible to fraud.
The site, scra.dmdc.osd.mil, happens to be a searchable database of service members’ active-duty status, it was made initially to be used by financial institutions, and other institutions when determining if a service member who is on active duty is entitled to certain protections under the Service members Civil Relief Act. These protection benefits are like protection from eviction. However the Vietnam Veterans of America disputed that the website has very low security and anyone can easily access the data. In the statement they said that anybody with other intentions can anonymously access the data which violates the Privacy Act.
Laura Ochoa, who is the Pentagon spokeswoman, said that Pentagon has not commented on the litigations that are currently on going. The data on the website can be accessed by searching the veteran’s or service member’s surname/ last name and birthday or social security number. Apart from that data related to troops’ dates of active-duty service, future dates of active duty and other service information can also be found on the website.
The suit was filed by the Vietnam Veterans of America last Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of New York. The legal representatives of the group were three student attorneys from the University Of Buffalo School Of Law, the team also had Jonathan Manes, an assistant clinical professor at the law school as part of the legal team
The lawsuit quoted a recent scenario in which an Air Force veteran, named Thomas Barden, was a victim of scammers who collected information of Barden from the Defense Department website. The scammers got details of Barden’s history in the military service from the site, used it to gain trust from the veteran and conned him into making purchase of a computer software that was fraudulent. Later, they took control of Barden’s computer, locking him out of his files until he paid a ransom. Barden refused to pay. The complaint stated that the situation of Barden was no aberration.
Vietnam Veterans of America wants the court to order the Defense Department to put in pace security restrictions on the concerned website they also want Barden to be awarded at least $1,000 in damages.