Share
Commentary

Government Fails Again: Creates 'Transparency' Site, Ends Up Exposing SS Numbers

Share

Protecting your personal information has never been more important in today’s internet culture. But who would have thought that you would have worry about the government compromising your identity?

CNN reported Monday that a government website exposed dozens and possibly possibly hundreds of Social Security numbers in addition to other personal information due to a design error while performing system upgrades.

For weeks, individuals’ personal information was available on the “public-facing database” of a Freedom of Information Act request portal until CNN alert alerted the government to the breech.

“After a tip from a source who had noticed the glitch, with two quick searches, CNN discovered that the government had published at least 80 full or partial Social Security numbers. There were other instances of sensitive personal information, including dates of birth, immigrant identification numbers, addresses and contact details,” the network’s Tal Kopan reported.

“The glitch also exposed other sensitive information about individuals. In one instance, a victim of a violent crime seeking information about the case described the crime. In others, victims of identity fraud seeking more information about their cases had their Social Security Numbers exposed in the process. (In some instances, government agencies require Americans to submit FOIA requests for their own personal information.)”

Trending:
George Takei's Disgusting Take on Murder of Nursing Student Makes Himself Out to Be the Victim

The problem arose as the site failed to withhold information of persons who previously submitted FOIA requests. Descriptions and private information, including Social Security numbers, was viewable to anyone who clicked through searching individual requests.

“When the website was switched from the 2.0 version to the 3.0 version on July 9, the masking feature for descriptions somehow ceased to exist. No one was aware of the issue until alerted by CNN,” Kopan reported. “Upon being alerted, the EPA office managing the site said it attempted to re-mask everything that was an obvious privacy concern, including sensitive information like Social Security numbers.”

According to CNN, the Environmental Protection Agency provides resources to maintain the FOIA clearinghouse but the agency has no idea how many people were affected by the glitch or for how long personal information was compromised.

“EPA spokesman John Konkus told CNN the agency would also investigate if further action was warranted,” the report states.

Would you ever feel safe using a government web site again?

“The EPA is aware and working with partner agencies to remediate an issue with the FOIA online 3.0 system,” Konkus told CNN. “The issue affects a limited number of cases and inadvertently displays descriptive information that may, in some instances, include Social Security Numbers. EPA will follow the Agency’s Breach procedures to evaluate the situation further and take the appropriate mitigation measures.”

Government incompetence is always a problem, which is one reason conservatives don’t trust a government that’s too big, no matter who is in the White House. In an age of identity theft, it’s an even bigger worry.

So, just in case you were one of the unlucky persons to have your identity or personal information released by the government, maybe you might want to know what the government says to do if you have been compromised.

USA.gov has a number of steps listed on their site to take if you have had your personal information stolen.

Among other things you can report your misfortune to the FTC.

Related:
Only Days After Release of Apple Vision Pro, We're Starting to See an Immediate Effect on Society

“If you report identity theft online, you will receive an identity theft report and a recovery plan. Create an account on the website in order to update your recovery plan, track your progress, and receive prefilled form letters to send to creditors. If you decide not to create an account, you need to print or save your identity theft report and recovery plan. Without an account, you won’t be able to access them on the website in the future. Download the FTC’s publication, Taking Charge – What to do if Your Identity is Stolen (PDF, Download Adobe Reader) for detailed tips, checklists, and sample letters.

You can also report identity theft to the FTC by phone at 877-438-4338. The FTC will collect the details of your situation, but won’t provide you with an ID theft report or recovery plan.  You may also choose to report your identity theft to your local police station.”

You can also report your theft to credit reporting agencies, the Social Security Office and the IRS — if you trust those government sites to protect information, after the government first compromised it.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
, , , , ,
Share
An enthusiastic grassroots Tea Party activist, Lisa Payne-Naeger has spent the better part of the last decade lobbying for educational and family issues in her state legislature, and as a keyboard warrior hoping to help along the revolution that empowers the people to retake control of their, out-of-control, government.
Lisa Payne-Naeger is passionate about all things related to influencing the configuration of our culture … family, education, politics. She’s a former school board member, turned homeschooling mom. In her quest to raise and educate her now-adult children, she has pretty much navigated every challenge and road block possible. Crusading to make the world a better place for them has led her to scrutinize the politically correct directives that steer society.
Birthplace
St. Louis, MO
Nationality
American
Location
St. Louis, MO
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Family, Education, Homeschooling, Local Politics, Grassroots Activism




Conversation