March 2008
Privacy: Little Brother (13 March 2008)
The Passport File Controversy (26 March 2008)
Comcast Will Stop Blocking BitTorrent (27 March 2008)
Threat Models (29 March 2008)

The Passport File Controversy

26 March 2008

There have been a lot of news stories about State Department workers looking at the passport files of the major presidential candidates. That is unquestionably a violation of their privacy; beyond that, given that a similar incident in 1992 was motivated by political concerns, a full investigation is warranted.

However — I really want to talk about the good news. The passport file system has some pretty good privacy protection: it's possible to flag the records of prominent people; supervisors are notified when their records are accessed. Some years ago, at least, the IRS did not have such a feature and it was indeed a problem.

There's one more feature I'd add to that: random audits of records accessed by employees. That would help deter — or detect — snooping on people who aren't celebrities. For all I know, the system already has that; if not, they've taken a good first step with what they have done.

Tags: privacy