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California Court Posts SSNs, Medical Records 117

Lucas123 writes "California's Riverside County Superior Court's Web site is serving up document images containing SSNs and detailed medical records relating to civil cases, according to a couple of privacy advocates. All of the documents are free to anyone who knows where to look for them. 'Searches done on the court's Web site turned up various documents related to civil cases that contained sensitive information. Included were complete tax filings, medical reports pertaining to cases handled by the court, and images of checks complete with signatures as well as account and bank-routing numbers.'"
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California Court Posts SSNs, Medical Records

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  • Meanwhile.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Friday May 02, 2008 @12:34PM (#23276210) Journal
    Meanwhile, in Italy, the outgoing government posts everyone's income and tax data [bbc.co.uk]. Deputy Economic Minister Vincenzo Visco bizarrely explains:

    This already exists all around the world, you just have to watch any American soap to see that.
  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Friday May 02, 2008 @12:35PM (#23276240)
    I think it goes beyond that. In the case of court filings, documents used in the case become public evidence, and as such, are required to be available publicly. At least, that's my understanding.... not sure how that applies to information that would normally be covered under HIPAA or similar privacy laws.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg of the information flood. As much as people hate the idea here, I think that there is a need for a federal ID piece that can be used to positively identify someone, without exclusively relying on information that's publicly available. Yes, there will still be attack vectors available, but there'd be far less. Maybe everybody gets their own private PGP key at birth?
  • by nexuspal ( 720736 ) on Friday May 02, 2008 @12:38PM (#23276270)
    Yeah lets tie it in with DNA so nobody can forge it! Hell, lets just implant a tiny RFID at birth while we're at it... It's already bad enough people need to fingerprint to use a vehicle, or if you are arrested for any reason, a DNA sample is taken. Lets just start it at birth!
  • by a-zarkon! ( 1030790 ) on Friday May 02, 2008 @12:51PM (#23276464)
    I love the fact that this is a California court. California being the leader in privacy protection and breach notifications and everything with their landmark SB-1386 legislation.
  • Re:Enter legislation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sparks23 ( 412116 ) * on Friday May 02, 2008 @12:57PM (#23276558)
    Why not just make a law that if someone has leaked your identifying financial information, if you become a victim of identity fraud they can be held responsible? I.e., have to fund the fixing-it-up?

    Doesn't matter if you can't prove /their/ leak is where the information got out. If they leaked and your identity is stolen, they're liable. THAT would work as a deterrent, I think.
  • by TheHorse13 ( 908512 ) on Friday May 02, 2008 @02:07PM (#23277492)
    A little regulation called HIPAA is supposed to handle this sort of issue. I wonder who will be doing the jail time if it's found that due diligence wasn't followed?
  • by gd2shoe ( 747932 ) on Friday May 02, 2008 @04:17PM (#23279184) Journal

    A SSN does tie to a single person...

    This is a common misconception. There are honest duplicates within the system. I'm not talking about the "undocumented worker" down the street. Duplicate SSN's are issued. You need some other information such as a name to make it a unique identifier.

    There are almost 304,000,000 people in the US. If they were unique, that would mean that a third of the total possible SSNs must be used just for the current living population. Count everyone who has died since 1936 (with an SSN), and everyone to be born in the next hundred years, and almost all possible numbers will be taken. I don't think SSNs were designed to be absolutely unique. They claimed they would never be used as identifiers.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson