• Quote of the week

    “Politics is a game of fear.Those who do not have the ability to frighten power elites do not succeed… The platitudes about justice,equality and democracy are just that. Only when ruling elites become worried about survival do they react. Appealing to the better nature of the powerful is useless. They don’t have one.”
    – Chris Hedges

Oops! The EPA Published the Social Security Numbers of People Who Filed FOIA Requests – Hit & Run : Reason.com

Thanks to a design bug in a government transparency website, dozens of social security numbers were mistakenly made public.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is supposed to facilitate government transparency, allowing intrepid reporters and other government accountability groups to pull back the curtain on government behavior. While maximal transparency might seem like a good thing, most people would agree that some information should remain private—like the social security numbers of those filing FOIA requests.

Unfortunately, a design error in foiaonline.gov resulted in at least 80 Social Security numbers of people filing FOIA requests were made public—either partially or in full—for nearly two months, if not longer, according to CNN. It wasn’t just social security numbers, either: birthdates, contact information, and immigrant identification numbers were also unintentionally made available to the public.

Foiaonline.gov is a FOIA request portal run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), though other federal government agencies, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Justice Department, and the Small Business Administration (SBA), use it as well. The site underwent a system upgrade on July 9, but there was a design bug. CNN describes the issue thusly:

The problem was with the feature that allowed anyone to search existing FOIA requests. The idea is that people can see what has already been requested, by whom, and in some cases what may have been provided. When users click through to the individual request, the description field is withheld, pending agency approval. Yet those descriptions were viewable in full on the search results page, including if Americans had included their or others’ Social Security numbers or any other personal information.

No one was aware of the glitch until CNN contacted the EPA last week. At that point, the EPA removed what sensitive information it could. But since other departments use the portal as well, each one had to remove the descriptions from FOIA requests relating to their specific agencies.

“Recently it was discovered that [potentially identifiable information] in some records was exposed to the public,” the EPA wrote Thursday in an email to the other agencies’ system administrators. “The PMO [Primary Management Office] has identified the cause of this issue and this afternoon implemented program fixes that resolved the problems. This issue will shortly be publicized by the press. It will also be reported that after our fix, that some names and addresses still do appear in publicly available FOIAonline records. A review by the PMO has found that this information has been marked as publicly viewable by the reporting agencies. It is requested that partner agencies review publicly viewable information to ensure that any personal information is specifically intended to be presented as such.”

While the error was eventually fixed, the bug raises questions about how much personal information you should include when filing a FOIA request. As CNN points out, the FOIA website’s “Privacy and Security Notice” warns those filing requests that “personal information…may be publicly disclosed on FOIAonline or on third-party Web sites on the Internet.” At the same time, the CBP FOIA request form asks filers to “include as much information as possible to assist us in locating the record(s) you are seeking.”

In the past, government incompetence hasn’t been the only thing making life harder for those filing FOIA requests. In September, Reason noted how state and local agencies were suing citizens who filed such requests.

On thing is for sure: Getting the government to disclose information it has no business hiding shouldn’t come with so many risks.

Source: Oops! The EPA Published the Social Security Numbers of People Who Filed FOIA Requests – Hit & Run : Reason.com

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  • Famous Quotes In History

    “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing…. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
    — George Orwell 1984

     

    By 1850, the House of Rothschild represented more wealth than all the families of Europe. Shortly after he formed the Bank of England, William Patterson lost control of it to Nathan Rothschild and here is how he did it:

    “Nathan Rothschild was an observer on the day the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, Belgium. He knew that with this information he could make a fortune. He later paid a sailor a big fee to take him across the English Channel in bad weather. The news of Napoleon’s defeat would take a while to hit England. When Nathan arrived in London, he began selling securities and bonds in a panic. The other investors were deceived into believing that Napoleon won the war and was eyeing England so they began to sell their securities too. What they were unaware of is that Rothschild’s agents were buying all the securities that were being sold in panic. In one day, the Rothschild fortune grew by one million pounds. They literally bought control of England for a few cents on the dollar. The same way the Rockefeller’s went into Japan after World War 2 and bought everything 10 cents on the dollar. SONY=Standard Oil New York, a Rockefeller Company.”

    — Dr. Ken Matto (History of Lies, Thievery, and Deceit)

     

    “All our law is private law, written by The National Law Institute, Law Professors, and the Bar Association, the Agents of Foreign Banking interests. They have come to this position of writing the law by fraudulently deleting the “Titles of Nobility and Honour” Thirteenth Amendment from the Constitution for the United States, creating an oligarchy of Lawyers and Bankers controlling all three branches of our government. Most of our law comes directly through the Hague or the U.N. Almost all U.N. treaties have been codified into the U.S. codes. That’s where all our educational programs originate. The U.N. controls our education system. The Federal Register Act was created by Pres. Roosevelt in 1935. Title 3 sec. 301 et seq. by Executive Order. He gave himself the power to create federal agencies and appoint a head of the agency. He then re-delegated his authority to make law (statutory regulations) to those agency heads. One big problem there, the president has no constitutional authority to make law. Under the Constitution re-delegation of delegated authority is a felony breach. The president then gave the agencies the authority to tax. We now have government by appointment running this country. This is the shadow government sometimes spoken about, but never referred to as government by appointment. This type of government represents taxation without representation. Perhaps this is why some people believe the Constitution was suspended. It wasn’t suspended, it was buried in bureaucratic red tape.”
    — David M. Dodge

     

    ” I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives. ”
    — Leo Tolstoy

     

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