Friday, March 21, 2008

Privacy? What Privacy?

When I first learned about the unauthorized access to Barack Obama's passport files, I was tempted to dismiss it as a minor infraction by curious and bored government clerks. You know, part of the "shit happens" excuse.

But then I learned not only that it happened on three different occasions, but it was all done by contract employees of a unidentified company which was hired to do data entry.

I spent 31 years in the employ of state government, and at first I felt that I could understand -- and dismiss -- the invasion of privacy inherent in this action. But the more I learned, the more concerned I became. Who exactly were these "private contractors" and what was the name of the company they worked for? It wouldn't surprise me to learn that this company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Halliburton or Blackwater or some other wingnut "contracting" company.

But the bigger question, and one that no one seems to be asking, let alone answering, is this: Were these contractors able not only to view Obama's passport records, but were they able to make changes?

Given that the Rethugs are not above such dirty tricks campaigning, it's a question that needs to be answered.

BTW, this is yet another example of the many detrimental things that can happen when government contracts out to private enterprise jobs that should be done -- ought to be done, must be done -- by government employees who, in my experience, are dedicated professionals who take pride in their work. Regardless of what the neocon fascist anti-government flacks in the wingnuttery try to tell you.

So the next time you fill out a government form, for anything from applying for unemployment insurance, a passport or Social Security, are you going to feel safe? Are you going to feel that your privacy is as sacrosanct as you'd like it to be?

I didn't think so.


Anonymous said...

Damn Straight!

Does make you wonder how much money they are spending on data storage to know when someone reads a database... Or as you said did they have write ability and that is how they got caught? Usually you do not track reads on data and only rarely do you track the writes so how do they know?

Farnsworth68 said...

All good questions. That still don't seem to be getting asked.
I heard an hour or so ago some wingut radio talking mouth, and of course they are dismissing it as nothing more than the workplace equivalent of schoolboy pranks.
Nothing more to see here; move on, and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

pepsiholic said...

Whoops... here you go again Farns... Still think it was a nefarious plot?:

The State Department investigation of improper computer access to passport records of three presidential candidates is focusing on one remaining employee — a contract worker with a company headed by an adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama...

I also believe that it was just curious people. How many nurses were fired in LA for looking at Britney Spears medical records? My significant other is a RN at the Toledo Childrens Hospital. When it was rumored that Katy Holmes may have her baby at the hospital, the management stated that anyone illegally checking out her medical history would be fired.

pepsiholic said...

"by government employees who, in my experience, are dedicated professionals who take pride in their work."

That sure was a pretty good attempt at humor Farns! Lets leak government secrets to the Press!!! What!! Send us to Iraq!!! So what if that was in our contract I don't want to go!!!

From my experiance with government workers (I had a friend who worked for the IRS who told me plenty of stories and my 8 years military service), they stay in government jobs because most of them are to incompetent to hold on to jobs out in the real world... I will admit that there are a lot of exceptions though...

Pepsiholic said...

Whoops, sorry about forgetting to provide the link to the article showing that it was a Obama supporter who headed the company. Here it is:

The third employee, who has not been fired, worked for The Analysis Corporation (TAC), which is headed by John O. Brennan, a former CIA agent who is an adviser to Mr. Obama's presidential campaign on intelligence and foreign policy.

nunya said...

This was going on last summer also. I lost three grand because the passports didn't come on time & the trip was canceled. It was my kid's graduation present, & we saved for it.
I guess the passport processors were curious?