Sailor in AOL privacy case files suit against the Navy

Summary:The sailor facing expulsion from the military over his alleged homosexuality has filed suit against the Navy, charging that his privacy was violated when Navy investigators obtained information on him through his America Online account.Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy R.

The sailor facing expulsion from the military over his alleged homosexuality has filed suit against the Navy, charging that his privacy was violated when Navy investigators obtained information on him through his America Online account.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy R. McVeigh had been ordered discharged from the service effective today on the grounds that he violated the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuality by describing himself as gay in his AOL (AOL) user profile.

However, the anonymous profile was only linked back to McVeigh when investigators obtained private subscriber information from AOL, he maintains on the Web site he set up in the wake of the controversy.

As a result of the legal action, Navy attorneys have agreed to delay McVeigh's expulsion until Jan. 21 to allow time for a U.S. District Court judge to consider his claims, according to his attorney, Christopher Wolf of the Washington law firm Proskauer Rose LLP.

McVeigh is not related to the man of the same name who was convicted in the Oklahoma City bombing.

A hearing date should be set today or Friday, and depending on the outcome of the hearing, similar litigation against AOL could follow, Wolf said.

"We haven't really made that determination yet," he said.

AOL officials have said they are investigating whether the company's privacy policy was violated by the employee whom McVeigh alleges gave out his personal information. AOL's terms of service prohibit staff from releasing personal background on subscribers to third parties except in criminal investigations.

McVeigh charges in the action that Navy officials violated the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act by seeking information about him from AOL.

Topics: Privacy, Legal

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