Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tuesday Essay Question

Back when I was in the Air Force, we had to do random opinion surveys. One time in particular sticks out for me. It was an anonymous survey. On the survey, for data collection, however, they asked for background information, to get a sense of demographics (the survey said). So I had to answer some questions before I could render my opinion. Let's see how anonymous this survey became:

Month and year of birth
base name
squadron name
office name
AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code, the particular job you hold in the air force)
Married or Single
Male or Female
Date arrived at duty station (month and year)

Then they proceeded to ask questions on how we felt about various subjects. I can't remember in detail; it's been four years. But the background information really stuck out for me. How hard would it be to check military records to find out who I am? Is this information really necessary to get a frank appraisal on current feelings of active duty members? It doesn't really seem too be terribly anonymous, short of not asking for your name or social security number.

Now, my question - Should the tracking system that is being used by the NSA be allowed? If no, could it be changed so that it would be allowable by you? What are your reasons for concluding yes or no?

Note that I am not asking whether it is legal or not. This is a should question, not a question of legal conclusion.

Take your time and come up with your answer. I look forward to hearing your responses.


Gramma said...

Our school district routinely does the same thing. It's called a Building Climate Survey, and the goal is to see how people think the building is running. It's completely anonymous. The demographic questions only want to know if the person completing the survey is a paraprofessional, classroom teacher, or ESA (Educational Support Associate), what specific grade level, full time or part time, etc. Being the only ESA on staff, I always lie. What the hell.

Kirsten said...

Same with our office. We do have an independent company factor the results; however, being the only "administrative department" member in our state, does kinda make my survey stand out.