A multitude of companies gather data on you daily, so would it concern you if DeCA collected and sold your information as well?
Whether you realize it or not, your personal information is taken constantly. Rewards cards at businesses collect information on your shopping habits so that they can better adjust their marketing to products you would be interested in. The majority of information obtained on individuals is sold to third party companies for market research. DeCA is one such company.
Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Military.com requested the information DeCA collects on military patrons’ use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAPS) and special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC) at commissaries. This request was denied by DeCA’s lawyers.
Specific information of shoppers was not requested. The request was simply for demographics of SNAPS and WIC users that shop at commissaries.
Lawyers however claimed that they didn’t have to share that information because of a law that states if information is sold to a third party then FOIA does not apply. The 2 companies they are referring to are Nielsen Holdings Plc and IRi.
Lawyers from DeCA were quick to say such information is not collected on shoppers anyway. They say that only product movement and sales information is collected when military IDs are scanned at the register. DeCA says they do not sell patrons’ personal information. They only collect demographic information. WIC and SNAP use therefore is not collected.
DeCA is giving contradictory information. They say they don’t collect personal information, only demographic information. The information they collect when military ID cards are scanned at the checkout include information from DEERS such as: ID number, rank, military status, branch, age, household size and the ZIP code of the service member’s home as well as their duty station. All of this is stated on a commissary fact sheet. This sounds pretty personal, especially recording your ID number.
What frustrates some people is that there is no way to opt out of sharing this information when you shop at the commissary.
Transparency is also a concern. Why is DeCA trying to prevent sharing this information? Is it because they actually do collect personal information?
If they do not collect this information, how are they reporting the military use of SNAP and WIC? The Department of Agriculture publishes data about where food stamp benefits are used each year. Commissary usage is included in that information.
In 2014 more than $84 million of SNAP benefits were spent at military commissaries according to a report filed by the Department of Agriculture. They estimated that between 1% and 2% of active duty used food stamps in 2012, the most recent data.
In the same year, the USDA estimated that more than 1.5 million veterans used SNAP. That’s about 7% of veterans. If DeCA doesn’t collect information on SNAP use, then how does the USDA have this information?
Does it bother you that DeCA collects your information, whether personal or simply demographic?
Remember you cannot opt out of having your military ID card scanned at the commissary.
Does it bother you more so that DeCA isn’t being transparent with providing this information to the public or that you cannot opt out of sharing it? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.