Um, Aren't You Guys Supposed To Count And Keep Track Of Stuff?

from the one-two-four-five dept

Government data leaks are becoming so common, they’re hardly noteworthy anymore. But it does seem slightly ironic that the government agency tasked with counting the country’s citizens and keeping track of all sorts of demographic data can’t keep track of its own computers, as the news emerges that since 2001, the Census Bureau has lost 672 laptops, 246 of which contained people’s personal information. It’s also lost track of 15 of the PDAs census workers use to collect information, and 46 portable data storage devices. The best part? They’ve got no idea whose data, or how many people’s was compromised, since the information workers collect is removed from the laptops at the end of every day — though they are in the process of contacting the 558 households whose information was on the PDAs. But it gets better: other units within the Department of Commerce have lost another 500 or so laptops, in addition to those lost by the Census Bureau. It seems inevitable that, at some point, data leaks will come back to haunt private companies as their customers put a higher priority on data security and the impact of identity theft becomes more widespread. But the government’s customers — meaning us — can’t really take our business elsewhere, to a more secure vendor or retailer. So what motivation will they have to solve their leaky data problems?

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Comments on “Um, Aren't You Guys Supposed To Count And Keep Track Of Stuff?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Exactly how do you "lose" a laptop

I don’t get this – they will bill our soldiers for any little item of issued equipment that isn’t returned (some even getting billed for stuff that was destroyed or which had to be cut off them to treat battlefield injuries) but yet they “lose” over 1000 laptops???

I could understand in a large organization a couple here and there, but for the love of pete, 1000????

It just reinforces my notion that there just isn’t enough accountability in a gov’t job, largely because of the pervasiveness of the attitude “its not like its OUR money!” (and I aim this at the career gov’t “executive class”, not the elected political animals).

chris (profile) says:

Re: Exactly how do you

the government “loses” millions each year in small arms and ammunition. i was told that when i was in the army. which is funny, because losing munitions is a national security risk, and any soldier that loses a rifle, ammunition, or an explosive device gets thrown in jail.

my personal tinfoil hat/black helicopter conspiracy theory is that these “losses” are how the government outfits CIA para-militaries and other black ops. like when we backed the taleban and the mujahadeen when they fought the soviets in the 80’s.

with all the scandals involving wiretapping and data mining, i would imagine they are using the “lost and found” program to outfit NSA spooks with the gear that they will need.

it’s just a theory tho, it’s not like i have any proof.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Simple solution...

yes, there are government officials that work when they are away from the office. hell their job IS to work when not in the office. A friend of mine works for BLS (bureau of labor statistics) he goes around collecting data on different companies, and he needs his laptop to record the data. if he had a desktop, his rate of data loss would increase because of losing papers and whatnot. or he could lug around his desktop….which defeats the purpose of a DESKTOP computer.

it’s not that they work late into the night while off the clock, it’s when they work during the clock that requires them to be away from their desks.

and i’m sure there are other gov’t officals that spend more time out of their office than in. and i’m sure these people need electroic assistance to complete their job.

Sanguine Dream says:

I know!

So what motivation will they have to solve their leaky data problems?

Simple. The information of a major politician or two needs to be stolen and used against them. I’ll bet if Carl Rove got $20k in credit card bills that he doesn’t remember (and I mean genuienly didnt know about not the usual political denial) something would be done.

Adam says:


have any of you ever “borrowed” hardware from work, never to return it again?

i know “this friend” who has… lol,

large, government agency, lots of employees… lots of borrowing…

i bet most of those laptops werent STOLEN by id thieves… probably just permanently borrowed by employees..

that, or half america’s ID is now public domain… *shrug*

(you choose, half empty or half full)

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