ACLU Admits Another Privacy Gaffe

Thursday, 27 February 2003, 4:48 PM EST

Protecting personal information on the digital frontier remains a tough task, even for the most ardent privacy activists.

That's the lesson the American Civil Liberties Union learned this week after sending out an e-mail newsletter that inadvertently contained the names and e-mail addresses of the hundreds of groups and individuals who received it. The gaffe, on Monday afternoon, came just weeks after the group was chided by New York State Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer for exposing the names, phone numbers and other details of about 91 people who bought merchandise in 2001 from an ACLU site online. The group apologized, paid a $10,000 fine and agreed to implement changes to prevent similar mishaps.

Shane Ham, a policy analyst in the District, said yesterday he was startled to receive the ACLU e-mail this week and see so many names and address on it. "This is the kind of thing they're not supposed to do," said Ham, of the Progressive Policy Institute, who has been critical of the ACLU on privacy issues.

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