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Do service members have privacy rights?

As a law firm that focuses on military law, part of our practice is to help service members prepare for court-martial proceedings. However, there are many other issues that might prompt a service member to seek legal assistance. 

For example, a claim might lie against the government when private information has been misused in violation of the Privacy Act of 1974. That law provides certain protections to individuals whose records are maintained by the military, regardless of whether the individuals are service members or civilians. Specifically, the law sets rules for the proper storage and use of private information for intended purposes, and limits access to such information for unintended purposes. 

Readers may be familiar with the Privacy Act in the wake of the privacy breach of an estimated 4.2 million federal employee records maintained by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. That breach resulted in a class action lawsuit. Yet a privacy breach on an individual scale can still warrant a civil lawsuit and potentially result in compensation. 

If you suspect that your private military information has been misused, the first step is consulting with an attorney. An attorney can help military members understand the type of records pertaining to them, as well as the intended use of the information. Military members also have a right to access and make copies of their own records. 

If you believe you might have a claim against the government arising from a breach of your private military information, a consultation with an attorney can help you understand your rights.

Source: “Privacy Act Statement and Security,” copyright 2016, Military OneSource

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