Jonathan Higbee's picture

U.S. Military Plans To Stop Hackers From Figuring Out Who's Gay?

An odd usage example put forth by the Department of Defense today in a call for proposals to combat “the national security threat posed by public data available either for purchase or through open sources" includes a situation when a closeted lesbian felt outed by Netflix. 

The only example cited by the military in its call for submissions is the 2009 lawsuit against Netflix, which was accused of outing a woman after releasing her movie preferences following a viewing of Brokeback Mountain.

From the DoD:

The Netflix Challenge in 2009 was launched with the goal of creating better customer pick prediction algorithms for the movie service. An unintended consequence of the Netflix Challenge was the discovery that it was possible to de-anonymize the entire contest data set with very little additional data. This de-anonymization led to a federal lawsuit and the cancellation of the sequel challenge.

Things went off the rails when a pair of researchers used supposedly anonymous information provided by the company to identify Netflix customers, by comparing their film reviews with reviews posted on the Internet Movie Database. A closeted lesbian who had watched the award-winning gay cowboy flick sued Netflix, alleging her privacy was violated because the company had made it possible for her to be outed. 

Is gay blackmail still a national security problem? Or could the DoD not find any more relevant examples to cite in its call for proposals?