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Public Statements

Providing for Further Consideration of H.R. 1960, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HONDA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my disappointment in the Rules Committee for not making my amendment to H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act or Fiscal Year 2014, in order.

House Republicans have once again failed to live up their promises of openness and transparency by denying me the opportunity to offer this important amendment to protect the privacy of students and parents with regard to military recruiters.

I sought to offer this amendment in support of parents and students within my own Silicon Valley district and from across the country. The privacy of high school students across our nation is compromised by a provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, which requires school districts to provide the personal, private information of students to military recruiters at the risk of losing scarce federal education dollars, unless parents opt out in writing.

Parents in my district complained to me that, in some instances, their children were persistently contacted at home by military recruiters. These parents wanted to know how the military got their children's personal, confidential information, including home phone numbers and addresses. They wanted to know why they were getting calls during dinner, especially when they had already gotten off of telemarketing lists.

My amendment sought to change this to an ``opt in'' requirement, under which parents would need to provide written permission in order for schools to be allowed share student information with recruiters.

The decision to join the military is a solemn one. Ideally, this decision should be made in consultation with people who love and care for the child--not with a government official, however well-intentioned, whose very job is to recruit for the military. This cannot be guaranteed if recruiters are able to contact students without explicit parental approval, as those parents may not realize their students are receiving such calls.

Other federal privacy statutes explicitly recognize individual privacy rights, particularly those of minors. The Children's Online Privacy Act prohibits commercial websites or online services from releasing personally identifiable information of minors. Federal agencies are prohibited from divulging personal information without written consent. Yet under current law it is acceptable to force schools to provide military recruiters with personal information of their students. This violates the trust between schools and students.

Our nation has the best-trained and most powerful armed forces in the world, and maintaining our military superiority depends on effective recruiting. This country also has a proud history of personal rights and privacy protection. I believe we can sustain one while preserving the other.

We must protect the children and students who represent the future of our country. This includes protecting their privacy.

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