In a move that could destroy victim confidentiality and discourage sexual assault reporting, the Army has announced plans to create a database system to log the names and comprehensive personal information of any alleged sexual assault victim or assailant associated with the Armed Forces in any way. According to the Federal Register notice, the database, known as the Sexual Assault Data Management System (SADMS) will become effective on Friday, November 25 unless “comments are received that would result in a contrary determination.”
The database would contain information about any victims of sexual assault committed by a member of the Armed Forces, as well as about any perpetrator who assaults a member of the Armed Forces. Personal information recorded would include name, Social Security Number, demographic data, any military service record, and possibly law enforcement and medical data connected to the assault. There is not yet a plan for the duration of these records, which will be considered permanent until such a plan is made, reports Government Executive. The users of SADMS are not specified beyond “authorized personnel who have official need in the performance of their assigned duties,” according to the Federal Register, raising questions about possible misuse of the information.
The National Organization for Women is asking for people to submit comments to the Army and Department of Defense opposing the creation of these identifying records before Friday of this week. The Miles Foundation, which assists military survivors of sexual assault, is also concerned about the possible uses of the database, and spokeswoman Anita Sanchez told Government Executive, “This poses some very serious questions about privacy and due process. This database is going to contain identifying information for an alleged victim or an alleged assailant.”