Local Vietnam Veterans and University at Buffalo file lawsuit against Department of Defense

Posted at 12:31 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 15:46:15-04

The Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 77 of Tonawanda and the Civil Liberties & Transparency Clinic from the University at Buffalo School of Law are filing a major data privacy lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense.

The lawsuit focuses on the public Department of Defense website, which according to the UB School of Law Civil Liberties & Transparency Clinic, leaves private information of millions of veterans unsecured. This vulnerability then creates a higher risk of scams and fraud.

Vietnam War Veteran Thomas Barden was contacted by a scammer who used his details about his military service found online to gain his trust, claiming to be a representative of Microsoft. The scammer then hacked in Barden's computer, changed his passwords and attempted to steal his credit card and banking information.

Barden says if the scammer hadn't used his military service information to gain his trust, he wouldn't have fallen victim to the scam. Barden wants the Department of Defense to make it tougher to access service member records. "People serve their country, and they have a lot on their mind especially if they’re still on active duty, deployment. To have something like this happen is unconscionable in my mind….protect all the veterans, they’re the ones protecting this country." 

The lawsuit alleges the the DoD violates the rights of Vietnam Veterans of America members' rights under the Federal Privacy Act. 

The lead attorney from UB's School of Law says the ideal outcome for this is that the DoD creates a registered user system and tracks who is accessing service member records.

We've reached out to the Department of Defense for comment. They have yet to respond.