Spying On Your Ex-Girlfriend Not Quite What Homeland Security's Database Is For

from the just-saying... dept

Every time we hear of yet another plan for the government to set up yet another database of information about people, we wonder about how it will be misused. Supporters always talk about how helpful such databases are (which is debatable), but rarely are willing to take into account how such systems are going to be abused — and they’re always abused. The latest such case involves an employee at the Department of Commerce who used a Department of Homeland Security database to track an ex-girlfriend. This wasn’t just a one-off thing either. He apparently used the database 163 times to check up on her. Then he threatened to have the woman deported and her family killed. So, as the government continues to push the boundaries in trying to collect more and more data on everyone, it’s at least worth asking if the potential for abuses is taken into consideration and how they’re dealt with (if they’re dealt with at all).

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Comments on “Spying On Your Ex-Girlfriend Not Quite What Homeland Security's Database Is For”

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James says:

Re: Re: Re: You Don't Know

Oh its definitely a miscarriage of justice Alan. Here we have a person in a position to access (legally or otherwise) sensitive information and using it for illegal/immoral purposes.. I know shock, and awe.

Reminds me of traffic cops who speed then later give out tickets for speeding.. do as I SAY, NOT as I do.

Alan P. Mongillo says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You Don't Know

Like I said, I bet there is more to this story than is being reported in the liberal press. All this is going to do is make those brave souls who are trying to protect us from the terrorists afraid to do their very difficult jobs. We need laws to protect our government employees and officials from misguided prosecution like this.

Jim G. says:

Re: You Don't Know

Um, did you actually click on the link to this story and read the part about this person being idicted by a jury for “unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and making a false statement to a government agency?” I agree with you that care should be taken to judge each case on its merits. You do not appear to be holding yourself to that standard.

J0ker says:

how do we know she wasnt a threat?? she must have been because he threatened to kill her, you are a complete and total moron if you think al this crap has anything to do with protecting us from terrorists, its about business protecting themselves from its consumers

when a trusted servant (govt employee) committs a crime using their office there should be a mandatory maximum sentence imposed that is at least 15 years in a nasty prison, like, say , gitmo, for crimes against the people (for all you flag waving inbreds, WE are the people)

have a nice day

AmericaCorrupted says:

Terrorists and Fear

Anything in the name of fear. These stories are out and about everywhere, but the thing is you don’t get nationwide coverage on Government Embarrassments like these. Just like police brutality videos, you never really know how many illegal activities are really going on with the people we are supposed to trust until video or some other form of proof hits our ears. Imagine how much more is really going on that you/us do not know about. I say fry him! We need to set an example that no one is above the law.
Lest we forget: “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin

Tom Greenhaw says:

It’s interesting that the word “privacy” hasn’t been mentioned.

I’d always wondered why people cared so much about privacy -the government can watch me all you want, I’m a very boring normal person.

Then one day I realized that while the great majority of people in the world are wonderful, it’s the one in a thousand lunatic or criminal you have to watch out for.

Having all this private information sitting on insecure computers opens the door wide for extreme abuse of personal information about people who have no means of protecting themselves.

You cannot argue against the need of law enforcement to collect and use this information to protect us. It would be like saying medical records are evil because doctors might misuse them for nefarious purposes.

The key is that the government has a responsibility to keep this information private, and must design procedures and policies that prevent it from being misused. In this case, this individual violated enough existing laws to put him away for a long time and he should not be treated with any leniancy.

The real question is how did he get away with repeated misuse of the system? It proves that the government does not adequately safegurd the private data it already has.

mamajamma says:

Re: Re:

You absolutely can argue against the need of law enforcement to collect and use this information. How do you think they “served and protected” before these databases?

Your line of reasoning is more dangerous that dear Alan’s. At least everyone can see he’s an idiot. Your statement comes across as reasonable so not many people are going to actually think about it and know that it’s not.

A doctor needs to know my medical history to make an informed diagnosis. The government does NOT need to tap my phone to protect me from terrorists

Crazy.Colby - Concerned Citizen (profile) says:

Re: Tom Greenshaw you are Dangerous

We realize you are a boring person Tom just like the majority of us. What is startling to me is that there are so few people in the total population that actually need to be tracked and yet you would be comfortable with everybody being tracked. You seem to suggest that we should change things for the majority based on the minority. That is lunacy!

Thank you AmericaCorrupted – Post #13 for your great quote even you prefer to focus wonderment on the unknowable – what a way to drive yourself crazy.

Next thing on the government to do list:
1.Create Terrorism Insurance so companies can recover from their hurricane losses
2.Continue taxing 80% of Americans and create more benefits for the remaining 20%
3.Tax smokers – an adult pleasure – to help children
4.Require schooling to the age of 18 when majority of kids do not want to learn and actually further the diminution of our school system everyday, hurting the minority who want to learn – because the minority are put through a defective system – as well as the majority who don’t want to learn – because they are defecting the system and not learning how to work, which is all they want to do.
5.Oh yeah not to mention, hinder 99.99% of the population with security requirements at airports so that they can catch the .01% of the population that would ever commit a crime on an airplane. Or I suppose that might not work either since criminals don’t go through the expensive security systems in the largest cities, but only the small cities like mine where security is a joke! But at least they can waste money on making people feel safer that way.

Lee says:


He would have probably gotten away with it if he hadn’t done it 163 times on the same person. That appears to be how many it took before they caught and stopped him. I’ve know cops who routinely run plate and owner background checks on good looking chicks they see cruising around and they never get in any kind of trouble for it. It’s all a matter of moderation. 163 times on the same person was just asking for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

You’re an idiot and your position is indefensible. The guy threatened to kill this woman, and her family or have them deported. A federal grand jury did not indict him for “doing his job”, it indicted him for illegally obtaining data to further his stalking. The “liberal” press didn’t make up this indictment, nor the facts that caused a grand jury to indict. You actually think that this guy was indicted for just doing his job? Something tells me you have more than a passing familiarity with the business end of a restraining order yourself.

Sneeje says:

Ummm... of debatable value?

How about instead of everyone taking silly and extreme positions on both sides, like “databases of private citizen information are great and you’re not a patriot if you don’t agree” or “the government should never have our information because it will always be abused” we figure out how to achieve the goals we all want which is to catch the bad guys? Too many people like to sit back and toss grenades instead of doing the hard work to change or improve the system.

Guess what? EVERY government program is subject to abuse. So the answer is not to do nothing, the answer is to attempt to strike the right balance. The problem with government databases is not that they don’t have value or are subject to abuse, but that dealing with the security and privacy issues are hard and often thought of after the fact.

I do consulting work for a major law enforcement agency and based on what I’ve seen and learned, I think we should be doing more to help these hard-working folks do their jobs efficiently and well. That does not mean giving up rights, but it does mean being both understanding and reasonable. The kinds of schemes these people are investigating are almost always now global, involving large numbers of people, all using terabytes of fraudulent and misleading information.

It makes me wonder why organizations like the ACLU and (insert right-wing organization here) can’t acknowledge the difficulties involved in upholding the laws and work to help law enforcement do their jobs well instead of waiting for them to do something misguided and sue.

Alan P. Mongillo says:

Re: Ummm... of debatable value?

It makes me wonder why organizations like the ACLU and (insert right-wing organization here) can’t acknowledge the difficulties involved in upholding the laws and work to help law enforcement do their jobs well instead of waiting for them to do something misguided and sue.

Because the (insert right-wing organization here) that can’t acknowledge the difficulties involved in upholding the laws and work to help law enforcement do their jobs well instead of waiting for them to do something misguided and sue doesn’t exist!

Sneeje says:

Re: Re: Ummm... of debatable value?

Ok, fair point. The last bit was confusing and applied mostly to the ACLU. The hangup of the (insert right-wing organization here) is usually that they forget about the importance of individual rights in the face of majority rights.

The problem is that given the heterogeneity of America, there is no longer agreement on majority rights. Personally, I think that tyranny of the minority is just as bad as the majority. The rights of individuals can be extrapolated too far just as group rights can. As I said before, the hard part is finding the right balance.

Fraust (user link) says:

163 times??

The fact that this guy accessed the database 163 times and threatened someone’s life before they caught him, is the real problem. Suppose he’d only accessed the database once. Twice. What if he’d accessed the database 25 times as opposed to 163 times. Would they have caught him or would they have missed it? How difficult would it be for one or more “moles” to get positions in the same department and access that same database multiple times without being noticed? The lack of security this implies is the real problem, not paranoia over the government having too much personal info on all of us in a database farm or it being a great idea to invade everyone’s privacy in the name of the “war on terror”. A supposedly secure government database accessed 163 times by a government employee was misused for personal reasons before they caught him. That is a big concern.

Dracer says:


I think Alan works for the government in some capacity with a stick up his ***, what’s with the liberal bashing at least we don’t send young boys and girls half way around the world to die for oil.Or do the same thing that terrorists do,do it in the name of religion. Go back to Iran if you don’t want personal freedoms. I could care less what info the gov has on me, it’s what they could do with it that bothers me, it needs much greater security as {163 times?} says.

Born Freemen says:

Abuse gos way deeper than you know

What is our congress doing about enacting serious legislation protecting innocent Americans from organized gang stalking by community watch groups? Corporations and wealthy Americans with evil agendas support these groups covertly.
Maybe Homeland Security is involved as well.
Their targets are minoritys, whistle blowers, people opposing the war, and people with opposing political views of the political group in power for that community.
These watch groups have grown in huge numbers because of the threat of terrorism.
Their gang stalking techniques are a form of torture, and being taught be x-military and government agents. Thier purpose is to destroy their targets lives.
There is plenty of information about this new form of Nazi like terrorism on the Internet.
I have heard that there is a large concern about homeland terrorists; well you need look no further than Gang Stalking.
Do a goggle search on “Gang Stalking”.

Are community watch groups being supported by forms of grants from the Homeland Security Department? Follow the Money.
Are there checks and balances in place regarding the choice of leaders in HS community watch groups to stop abuse?

This is a violation of the 4th amendment, and I believe it can be stopped by strong legislation and powerful civil rights lawsuits.
But until it reaches the forum of public debate, where once it becomes known that there are sever penalties for illegal constitutional violations, this evil tool being used by the leaders of stalking groups for the purpose of controlling the stalkers and those being stalked, will be the undoing of the USA.
Because in a short period of time, there will be millions of Americans spying on millions of Americans. And the spies will think they are justified in doing it because of the Patriot ACT.
Please, I pray you bring this to the public forum and enact serious legislation to stop this activity. Homeland security deputies should not have this kind of abusive power.
The Patriot Act will be the destruction of the USA.
Please do not grant any immunity to those involved.
Enact serious legislation to stop Gang Staling now.
It is a growing epidemic, and presents a huge danger to our Democracy.

American Patriot of the 1776 Brand.
Born Freemen

Guess Who says:

Who thought up this name "Homeland Security"?

Just why, oh why, did they have to name it “Homeland Security”? Hitler got off so well calling Nazi Germany “The Fatherland”, and Stalin did so well calling Communist Russia “The Motherland”. Talk about your stereotypical-sounding names! Were they trying to give it a warm, fuzzy sounding name to make harsher realities more acceptable? At least the FBI sounds like it is: authoritarian.

J in SD says:

Gangstalking- Hitler's gift to 21st Century Haters

It’s absolutlely epidemic and as Born as Freemen describes, it will and is destroying the country. It’s lynch mobs, secret police. I recently found out what all this bad stuff happening to me is about, and as I pick up things pretty quick and refuse to bow down to tyrants, even knowing they can kill me easily, I seek to spit in their face and assist to rid the world of their cancer. This defiance has unfortunately meant they have increased the intensity of the DEW harassment. What is next I don’t know. I am John Lucier of San Diego, batvette@sbcglobal.net join in the coming civil war against the stooges of corporate greed. I served 4 years in the Navy in the cold war risked my life working night ops on a carrier deck, just to stare down the Soviets and see the US constitution I pledged to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic trampled on by these scared little haters? NO WAY JACK and you gotta put a bullet in me yourself, you sorry freedom hating POS. All you perps out there think you’re saving the country, think again, and may God have mercy on your soul because BeelzaBUBBA won’t as he bends you snitches over for eternity. Justice, not revenge. We’ll give you the due process you denied us TI’s.

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