Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Privacy Rights Trashed in Ohio

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It's now clear that employees of three separate agencies (in four instances) looked into Joe the Plumbers records in violation of privacy laws:

The director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Helen Jones-Kelley, confirmed on Monday that she approved a records check on suddenly famous Joe the plumber, who was mentioned frequently by John McCain in his Oct. 15 presidential debate with Barack Obama.

Driver's-license and vehicle-registration data about Wurzelbacher were obtained from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Also, the State Highway Patrol is investigating unauthorized access to data about Wurzelbacher in the attorney general's office from a test account that the office shared with contractors who developed a computer network for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.
Does anyone have a doubt that Ms. Jones-Kelley would have balked at looking into, say, the abortion records of someone if she had the means to allow it? There's absolutely no difference here because she was plainly looking into confidential records in an effort to smear a private citizen who Obama delivered an incendiary political comment to--after Obama approached him in the mans backyard.

Is this a peek into how Obama's appointees will use the weight of the government to silence critics?

Security and confidentiality of private information is the cornerstone of American civil rights. It seems that it is official Ohio policy to snoop on those one disagrees with and Governor Ted Strickland has evidently no qualms about it being so.

The perpetrators of these crimes--and yes they are crimes--should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law without delay. They broke a law and used government resources to do so.

1 comment:

Ben Wright said...

This story illustrates the unprecedented transparency that technology is bringing to society. Just as (allegedly) Plumber Joe's privacy was breached, access logs in Ohio's information systems show when his data was accessed and from which particular government offices. That's powerful stuff. Data logs can probably enable a deeper investigation into precisely who made the access and whether it was legal. If people acted illegally, the digital evidence can lead to their punishment. Such transparency represents a big trend in society http://hack-igations.blogspot.com/2007/12/people-in-authority-sometimes-abuse.html --Ben