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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Barack Obama and John McCain’s passport records were illegally accessed by government employees earlier this year, and Hillary Clinton’s were breached in the summer of 2007. We didn’t find out about any of it until March of 2008. I was thinking when this happened—and have been waiting to hear since the announcement—this is the perfect chance for one of the candidates to take a firm stand on individual rights for the privacy of their constituents’ names and personal data. Of course it didn’t happen. I say “of course” for at least a couple of reasons. One, it is an election year. And two, the presidential hopefuls depend on a lot of their support from those same corporations that are responsible for the data breaches. But one can hope. Barack Obama’s campaign came the closest to taking a “firm” stand when his spokesperson, Bill Burton, said, "This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years.'' Burton added, "This is a serious matter that merits a complete investigation, and we demand to know who looked at Senator Obama's passport file, for what purpose, and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach. Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes.'' Obama reacted saying, "It is deeply disturbing, what's happened. I talked to Condoleezza Rice this morning. She called me and offered her apologies, which I appreciated. But I also indicated that this is something that has to be investigated diligently and openly. One of the things that the American people count on in their interactions with any level of government is that if they have to disclose personal information that [it] is going to stay personal and stay private.” Democrat, Joe Biden, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was “deeply troubled” and ‘urged” Sec. of State Rice to investigate, something that no doubt won’t happen until after Bush is out of office. In a Washington Post article, Under Sec. of State Patrick Kennedy said he didn’t know if laws were broken, or if the passport information was shared. The incident was discovered when a computer-monitoring system put in place to protect politicians and celebrities was triggered and the culprits were caught. Two employees were fired and one disciplined. Interestingly, the program was developed after Bill Clinton’s passport records were accessed when he was the 1992 presidential candidate. If you are curious about what the State Dept. workers were curious about—or worse—go to Computerworld’s site where you can learn just what is in a passport record. There are juicy items that could be used against the candidates like investigative reports on why someone had been denied a passport, medical information and arrest warrants. That is, of course, if the candidate had any of these. Everything is there to steal their identity: name/address, date of birth, Social Security number. But can you imagine someone walking into a store using a credit card with Hillary R. Clinton’s name on it? The point here is that, with the perfect opportunity to move forward with a proposal for solving the identity crisis by recommending protections for the consumer for their sensitive data, we got the same old hype of being disturbed over what happened and a call for investigations. It is really up to the individual voter to change this “business as usual” crap by demanding some form of consumer protections against data breaches in the candidate’s platform, or else. Tell them you want them to propose control over your name and private information, or you’ll find a candidate who will.

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