Wednesday, April 09, 2008

If The Shoe Fits

I came across LegiStorm, which has a nasty habit of publishing publicly available information about the salaries and finances of our friends on Capitol Hill. They just started publishing the data for highly paid staffers, to a litany of complaints over potential identity theft. Turns out that the concerns about identity theft stem, in part, from the staffers own inability to pay attention to the forms they completed. The consequence is that information not needed is included, and some of it is indeed sensitive. LegiStorm has done its best, but it isn't enough for the staffers. The House Clerk is working the issue because frankly anyone who walks into the office at Capitol Hill can view the same forms, and obtain the same information. This fracas over the postings on the Internet has revealed a serious vulnerability, not of LegiStorm's creation.

I can't say I feel particularly bad for the staffers.

1 - they can't follow instructions and helped create the problem

2 - everyone was willing to allow sensitive data to be available, until they discovered that people might actually do something with it. The ubiquity of the 'Net has resulted in Joe and Jane Citizen getting instant access to public forms that previously required a lot of effort to get to.

So, I hope the House Clerk works this out to the satisfaction of all, the staffers need to take a bottle of chill pills, and let this be a lesson to all of us that the need to follow instructions and limit the amount of data we share is extremely important in the age of instant information and gratification.

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