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Commissaries scanning ID cards to collect demographic data

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Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 4:30 am

Fort Hood commissaries began scanning patrons’ Defense Department identification cards at the register this week.

The change is to provide the Defense Commissary Agency with demographic data on its customers, said Nancy O’Nell, a California-based spokeswoman for the organization.

Information collected includes military status, branch of service, ID card number, household size, age, residential ZIP code, and duty station ZIP code, if applicable.

“All collected information is secured and safeguarded,” O’Nell said via email. “Demographic information will allow us to better understand our patrons and their preferences. This will enable us to provide products and services directly related to the patron base at specific locations.”

Customers shouldn’t be worried other information will be pulled from their cards, said Richard Brink, spokesman from the agency’s headquarters at Fort Lee, Va.

“The only information that will be collected at the register is the barcode value. This information will be captured, transmitted and stored behind (the agency’s) ‘firewall’ with physical, administrative and technical controls in place as required by (Defense Department) regulations and the Privacy Act to minimize the risk of compromising our customers’ privacy.”

The scan does not identify specific personal data of an individual, he added. Purchases and spending habits will not be linked to a person’s ID card.

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