A gunman, centre left, shoots and kills a man lying in Baghdad’s Haifa Street after being pulled from a car Sunday, Dec. 19, 2004. The man at right on his knees was executed moments later, along with another man not shown in picture. About 30 gunmen ambushed a car Sunday in central Baghdad carrying employees of the Iraqi organization running next month’s elections, killing three of the workers while two escaped unhurt, an official from the election body said. (AP Photo/Str)
The American Civil Liberties Union is using sophisticated technology to collect a wide variety of information about its members and donors in a fund-raising effort that has ignited a bitter debate over its leaders’ commitment to privacy rights.
Some board members say the extensive data collection makes a mockery of the organization’s frequent criticism of banks, corporations and government agencies for their practice of accumulating data on people for marketing and other purposes.
Daniel S. Lowman, vice president for analytical services at Grenzebach Glier & Associates, the data firm hired by the A.C.L.U., said the software the organization is using, Prospect Explorer, combs a broad range of publicly available data to compile a file with information like an individual’s wealth, holdings in public corporations, other assets and philanthropic interests.
The issue has attracted the attention of the New York attorney general, who is looking into whether the group violated its promises to protect the privacy of its donors and members.
The recording industry will ask the International Red Cross to freeze a trust fund allegedly controlled by the owners of Sharman Networks, an Australian software company.
The music industry maintains that Sharman, the maker of the Kazaa peer-to-peer software, is owned by several companies through a trust fund registered in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. The Red Cross is the only beneficiary specifically named in the trust, so the recording industry, which is suing Sharman, is asking the organization to voluntarily freeze the fund until a verdict is reached in the Australian Federal Court.
“Weíre preparing our approach to the International Red Cross,Ē says Michael Speck of Australiaís Music Industry Piracy Investigations, which spearheads the prosecution of accused pirates. “I believe this whole thing will come as a complete surprise to them, and weíre only approaching them to stop them disposing of any funds.”
A Sharman Networks source confirmed the International Red Cross is a beneficiary of the Vanuatu-based trust.
Mary Still, a lawyer acting in Sharmanís defense, says the record industryís proposed approach to the charitable organization “is quite simply staggering.”
But Speck says it will simply ask the Red Cross to freeze the fund until a legal outcome in the Australian court case is reached, and hopes the charity will cooperate. “It would be incredibly disappointing if we had to sue them,” he says.
Mafia: “Say, that’s a nice shop you have there.. it would be a shame if something happened to it…”
Music Industry: “Say, that’s a nice charity you have there.. it would be a shame if something happened to it…”