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Privacy Government Security United States Your Rights Online

US Gov't Makes a Mess of Classifying Sensitive Data 100

coondoggie writes "Protecting and classifying sensitive information such as social security numbers shouldn't be that hard, but (perhaps not surprisingly) the US government has elevated complicating that task to an art form. It seems that designating, safeguarding, and disseminating such important information involves over 100 unique markings and at least 130 different labeling or handling routines, reflecting a disjointed, inconsistent, and unpredictable system for protecting, sharing, and disclosing sensitive information." This was the conclusion of a recent report (PDF) by the Government Accountability Office, which also "found areas where sensitive information is not fully safeguarded and thus may remain at risk of unauthorized disclosure or misuse."
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US Gov't Makes a Mess of Classifying Sensitive Data

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  • by godunc ( 1836034 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:34PM (#33567816)
    SSNs are used as an example. The real problem, alluded to in the article, is that the government attempts to classify personally sensitive, business sensitive, and military critical information (to name a few) under the same system. Unfortunately there is plenty of overlap and specific cases within these categories, resulting in a ridiculous number of labels - thereby resulting in mass confusion. However, this situation is often the case when one attempts to take a single system and apply it to such a wide audience. The US fed is going through a similar situation in IT and HR Management; at some point the benefits of consolidation result in less efficiency...
  • Re:Protecting what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AfroTrance ( 984230 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @09:09PM (#33568064)

    What is the exact purpose of a SSN? In Australia, we have a tax file number (TFN), which seems equivalent. This is only used for taxation purposes. You would never use it for ID, unless you are identifying yourself to the tax department. You only give it to your bank if you earn interest, but you don't have to if you don't want to. Birth certificates are used as a baseline ID.

  • by cheater512 ( 783349 ) <> on Monday September 13, 2010 @10:05PM (#33568364) Homepage

    I cannot see having 3 different types of 'Sensitive' can help efficiency at all.

  • Re:Protecting what? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:29AM (#33573698)

    And yet, it says right on the card, that the number is not to be used for any sort of identification.

    That's government honesty for you: if they declare in the law that something is a fee rather than a tax, then they have not raised taxes.

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