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Government Websites Cross Jurisdictions To Serve Your Data Worldwide

David Bloys - News For Public Officials

View David Bloys's profile on LinkedIn


November 4., 2006


Law enforcement agencies have warned you to carefully control who you give your private information to, but everyday, local and state agencies breach their jurisdictional control  to deliver the same data to anyone, anywhere in the world.


State and local government agencies have been collecting your personal information (sometimes without your knowledge or consent), and making the data available to foreign agents and criminals thousands of miles outside the agency's controlling authority.

This is your personal information; your name, address, Social Security number, credit card number, driver's license number, medical history, signature, and more.

The following table of data breaches by government Websites lists some of the cases that have made national and local headlines; and some that haven't hit the headlines YET.

Prince George's County Maryland

Man Wins $5.6M in Database Error Lawsuit Against County


Prince George's County Maryland will have to anti-up more than five million dollars to atone for a database error from 2007 that caused an innocent man to be arrested in D.C. and spend five days in jail in 2009


Oakland County Michigan

Computer Error Tags Man as Sexual Predator


What started as a minor charge in Oakland County Michigan was transformed into a serious sexual offence by the county computer system and caused a thirty-five year old man to be arrested for failure to register as a sexual predator.


Franklin County Ohio

County Web Site Helped Thieves Steal Identities of Victims in Five States


Police in Worthington Ohio say hundreds of people in five states are the latest victims of identity theft that has resulted from county officials publishing sensitive information about citizens over the Internet. They've asked the U.S. Secret Service to investigate the link between the county Web site and online identity theft.

Travis County Texas

Redaction Failed - Sensitive Records Back Online



Six months ago, Texas Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir removed the County's huge collection of documents from the Internet at the request of citizens' concerned about the County revealing individual citizens' personal data.

Last week DeBeauvoir put thousands of citizens at risk when she put the records online and exposed the failure of her six month long redaction efforts.

Source: News for Public Officials

Monmouth County, NY

Judge orders removal of deeds from Web

James F. Norton III filed suit in the Chancery Division of Monmouth County Superior Court, arguing that publication of his Social Security number would expose him to financial identity theft.

Source: Asbury Park Press

Grand Prairie, Texas

City Posted sensitive employee info on Web site

The city posted city employee's private information, including Social Security numbers, on the city's website for over a year.

“It was a mistake, you know, on our part to tell you the truth,” said Amy Sprinkles with the City of Grand Prairie. “We just didn’t catch it.”



Governor Furious After State Publishes Doctors' Private Information Online

December 8, 2006

 -- At least several hundred, likely more, Social Security numbers of health care providers were posted to the Internet in a state contractor's mistake.

News for Public Officials

All Florida Counties


Fla. residents' data exposure a statewide issue

The Social Security numbers, driver's license information and bank account details belonging to potentially millions of current and former residents of Florida are available to anyone on the Internet because sensitive information has not been redacted from public records being posted on county Websites.

Although questions about the availability of personal data online initially focused on Broward County, an official there stressed today that all counties in Florida are subject to the same state law. A spot check of other county Web sites today confirmed that sensitive data is easily available through public property records.

Included in the documents publicly available are dates of birth and Social Security numbers of minors, images of signatures, passport numbers, green-card details and bank account information.


Computer World

Rowan County, NC


County Register Exposes Constituents In Defiance of  County Board

Rowan County, North Carolina, Democratic incumbent Bobbie Earnhardt, who is seeking her fourth term as  Registrar of Deeds, is publishing the Social Security numbers belonging to  thousands of her constituents in spite of protests by citizens and county officials.

In October, 2005 the County Board voted to shut down the Rowan County Register of Deeds' Website until further notice. Earnhardt has stubbornly refused to comply with the boards decision. Anyone who has ever bought property in Rowan County is at risk...


Salisbury Post

News for Public Officials


Health providers' Social Security numbers posted on state site

Human Resources Commissioner Linda McIntire said the names and Social Security numbers of doctors, psychologists and others were posted on a Web site where the state had posted a request for bids by contractors to be the state's health insurance administrator. At least several hundred, likely more, were exposed.

Source: WCAX-TV News

Mecklenburg County, NC

County Website Puts Police at Risk


Police officers say Mecklenburg County's Website may put them in danger, and the department wants the county to remove their documents. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Darrel Stephens said that in one case, a police officer received a veiled threat. Police believe the person got information about the officer from county real estate records. The Website places every citizen of the County who has reason to keep their sensitive information private at risk.


Source: The Charlotte Observer

Cabarrus County, NC

Judges Social Security numbers found on County Website

Jan Forster, a public records expert and paralegal with has found the Social Security numbers of almost every judge in Cabarrus County in documents published on the County Website. Only one judge has escaped Register of Deeds Linda McAbee's zest for publishing constituent's records outside her jurisdiction. The security breach is not limited to judges. Anyone who has owned property in Cabarrus County since 1983 is at risk.

Source: Find My Id Blog

Suffolk County Clerk's Office, New York

 Over 7,000 homeowners' Social Security numbers posted on website

The Suffolk county clerk's office has exposed the Social Security numbers of thousands of homeowners on its Web site, and officials said they don't have a way to remove them. And soon, a new plan will make it easier to retrieve them.

Mortgages and deeds that contain Social Security numbers for an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 individuals have been "scanned" and posted on the county clerk's Web site.

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office, said identity theft is a big problem for his office and he was surprised the numbers are available on a county Web site.

"It's not only disheartening, it's crazy," he said.



Cumberland County, PA

Cumberland County discovers employee Social Security numbers on county website

Cumberland County officials did a quick computer two-step yesterday after learning the Social Security numbers of some of their 1,200 employees were on the county Website. The information likely had been on the site for years. The Social Security numbers were included in minutes from salary board meetings dating from 1999 and earlier.


The Patriot-News

Tuscarawas County, OH

Tuscarawas County Voters Social Security Numbers Exposed

Potentially hundreds or thousands of Social Security numbers belonging to Tuscarawas County voters are available to Lexis Nexus subscribers located in 100 countries. Copley News Service confirmed that Social Security numbers of some, but not all, Tuscarawas County voters could be obtained.



Denton County, TX

Signatures and driver’s license numbers used to steal home
Police in Frisco, Texas reported the fraud as a new twist on identity theft where criminals used a a signature and driver’s license number to file a fraudulent deed with the Denton County Clerk's office.

News for Public Officials researcher Lisa Ramsey found the victim’s driver’s license number and several copies of her signature on the Denton County Clerk’s subscription Website. Thousands of Denton County residents are similarly exposed.


WFAA -TV Dallas/Ft Worth

News For Public Officials

Fort Bend County, TX

Meet the Stalker's

In March, 2005 Fort Bend County, Texas topped Smart Money's Meet the Stalker's List after reporters found Tom Delay's Social Security number prominently displayed on the County Clerk Dianne Wilson's Website.

Subsequent reports by the Fort Bend Herald and News for Public Officials revealed that the Website displays Social Security Number's, driver's license numbers, medical information, and credit card numbers belonging to hundred's of thousands of  past and present citizens.

Additionally, the Fort Bend County Clerk sells the data in bulk to outside companies for a fraction of what the county charges its own citizens.

In 2006, Fort Bend County officials refused open records requests for access to an independent audit that may have implicated some elected officials in federal privacy violations involving medical information published on the county website.


Smart Money

Fort Bend Herald

News for Public Officials

Hamilton County, OH

Identity thieves confess: everything they needed was on County Website

Kevin Moehring pled guilty in July of 2002 to using the Hamilton County Website to steal the identity of Jim Moehring, general manager at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati...

In March of 2006, Hamilton County’s Website problems resurfaced in a big way. Federal authorities revealed that they had busted up an identity theft ring in southwest Ohio.  According to published reports, Social Security numbers and other information gleaned from the Hamilton County government Website were allegedly used to steal nearly $500,000.

New York Times

Middletown Journal
Cincinnati Post

Suffolk County, NY

County Clerk victim of identity theft

“I am a victim of identity theft. Just recently my social security number was stolen”, Suffolk County legislator Edward Romaine said from his Riverhead office. Romaine wants to call attention to -- and seek changes in -- the county's Website and its practice of making very personal data a matter of public record.

Source: WCBS-TV New York

Unnamed Government Website in Maryland

Political Opponents Steal Lt. Governor’s Identity

Sometime around July 2005, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee research director Katie Barge, and/or her deputy, Lauren B. Weiner, discovered Steele’s Social Security number on some court records. Video obtained by  WBAL-TV Baltimore indicates the court document bearing Steele’s Social Security number was found on a government website.


Washington Post

WBAL-TV Baltimore

State of Utah

Children’s Identities Breached By State Website

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced on July 15, 2005 that five people had been charged---and hundreds more may be charged----with stealing and forging social security numbers belonging to children. Investigators checked Utah state records and found that approximately 1,800 social security numbers, belonging to children under of 13, may have been compromised by state's websites.


Source: Utah Attorney General Press Release, July 15, 2005

Chicago Board of Elections

Elections Board Website exposed private information belonging to voters

For at least the last six years, the Chicago Board of Elections' Website has exposed the Social Security numbers and birth dates of more than 1 million registered voters to anyone with a computer. The breach was discovered by the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, a not-for-profit, non-partisan civic organization dedicated  to informing and educating the public, media and government officials about important election-integrity issues.


Illinois Ballot Integrity Project


News for Public Officials

Denton County (TX) and  City of Port Orange (FL)

Deputies in Texas, Police in Florida provided access to "secure" Website used by law enforcement

According to a complaint filed by the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. five men ranging in age from nineteen to twenty four are accused of scamming  their way into databases used by law enforcement.


Court Records, Southern District of Florida

Washington Post

Berks County, PA

Sheriff's Website exposed 25,000 Social Security Numbers

Names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other information of some of 25,000 gun-permit holders exposed on County Website. An employee of a California software firm spotted the Website, realized it was confidential and notified the sheriff. Along with the Social Security Numbers, the site contained names, addresses,  and other personal information.


Allegheny County, PA

100 Judges demand their information be removed from County Website

When Judges In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania found their home addresses and other sensitive information on the Alleghany Website they demanded the county remove their information immediately. Over 100 judges signed the petition citing the recent murder of a Federal Judge's family in their Chicago home. The County complied but refused similar requests from local police and citizens.


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

City of Savannah, GA

Red Light Camera's exposed more than just photos on City's Website

The photos, names, dates of birth, addresses and sometimes Social Security numbers of 8800 recipients of red light camera tickets in Savannah Georgia were published on the Internet when the city's web server failed to implement the most basic security measures.


News for Public Officials

Maricopa County, AZ

First County To Go Online Becomes Highest In Nation For Identity Theft

In 1997, Arizona’s Maricopa County became the first government entity in the nation to post public records online. Maricopa now claims the highest rate of identity theft in the nation, and local IT officials say the two statistics are inextricably linked."

Just before Christmas,2005 while Maricopa County Officials were denying that criminals  were using the County Website, a 23-year-old methamphetamine user was showing Scottsdale officers exactly how he used the County Recorder’s Website to steal identities.


New York Times

Computer World

CIO Magazine

Florida Department of Management Services

Personnel data for state employees wound up in India

On March 16, 2006 Convergys and the Florida Department of Management Services admitted that personnel data for state employees wound up in India. The sensitive data of 100,000 state workers may have been compromised. The state has filed a lawsuit against Convergys asking for 5 million dollars in damages.

Department of Management Services Secretary Tom Lewis told the Florida Senate Governmental Oversight and Productivity Committee: "The use of offshore services was inappropriate and unacceptable."


Tallahassee Democrat

Multiple Counties in Florida

Signatures and Notary Seals copied from County Website

Law enforcement officials say deed forgery is particularly rampant in South Florida, and especially in Miami-Dade County.

"All it takes is a trip to the store, the County Website and then the clerk or county recorder's office", said Dennis Haber, president of the Attorneys Real Estate Council.


Mississippi Secretary of State

Identity details found on state site

Until July 2006, the Mississippi Secretary of State's Website was a potential gold mine for would-be identity thieves anywhere in the world.

More than 2 million documents - thousands containing individuals' Social Security numbers - called Uniform Commercial Code filings had been available for public perusal.

After calls from concerned residents, privacy advocates and The Clarion-Ledger, the secretary of state's office disabled links to the documents.


B.J. Ostergren, The Virginia Watchdog

The Clarion Ledger


Virginia Bureau of Insurance

State Website Exposed 202,000 Social Security Numbers

In an advisory dated August 8th, 2006, Ken Schrad, Director of Virginia's Division of Information Resources announced that the State's Bureau of Insurance Website published the Social Security numbers of every insurance agent licensed in the state.

King County (Washington)

Social Security numbers for "thousands" posted to county website

King County Elections has posted the Social Security numbers for potentially thousands of current and former county residents, according to County Council member Reagan Dunn.

"Within forty-five minutes, my staff was able to retrieve online documents with the Social Security numbers of numerous local elected officials and other high-profile individuals," Dunn said. "If we had a criminal agenda, these people would be victims of identity-theft by now."


Seattle Post-Intelligencer

United States General Accounting Office

GAO pulls archived personal data from Web

The Government Accountability Office has pulled from its Website personal information on certain government employees after discovering that the archived data had been inadvertently posted online. GAO said the data came from audit reports on Defense Department travel vouchers from the 1970s and included some service members’ names, Social Security numbers and addresses. GAO estimates that fewer than 1,000 people were impacted.

David Walker, head of the GAO and comptroller of the U.S., ordered the agency to remove the data and directed officials to contact the Pentagon and other affected organizations and urge them to purge similar files.


Government Computer News

United States Department of Education

"Limited number" of 6.4 million borrowers have information exposed on student loan Website

The department said that only a "limited number'' of the program's 6.4 million borrowers were believed to be affected after the problem began Sunday, since not all use the online system. It did not specify how many.

The program involves holders of federal direct student loans, not those who have loans managed through private companies.


The Boston Globe



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