Personal data was collected in bulk without a warrant, but this time, the federal government officials were not the perpetrators of the snooping- they were the victims!
According to officials, hackers working for the Chinese government stole the personnel records of four million current and former federal employees. The Office of Personnel Management explains:
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has identified a cybersecurity incident potentially affecting personnel data for current and former federal employees, including personally identifiable information (PII). Within the last year, the OPM has undertaken an aggressive effort to update its cybersecurity posture, adding numerous tools and capabilities to its networks. As a result, in April 2015, OPM detected a cyber-intrusion affecting its information technology (IT) systems and data. The intrusion predated the adoption of the tougher security controls… As a result of the incident, OPM will send notifications to approximately 4 million individuals whose PII may have been compromised.
Just last week, the Internal Revenue Service revealed that it had been taken by hackers to the tune of 100,000 taxpayer records… The hack of personnel data reveals that the feds can’t even protect their own minions.
Imagine having nameless, faceless, government officials collecting information about your personal history in bulk without a warrant. That must feel like a terrible violation of privacy for those federal employees. Can you feel the irony yet?
As the debate continues over whether the federal government should be collecting bulk data on its citizens in the first place, the question remains, are they even capable of doing it responsibly? Stories like this one do not inspire much confidence.