Washington Co. looking into social security data leak

MACHIAS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Circumstances surrounding the leak of personnel data for dozens of current and former Washington county employees continues to dominate discussion. County leaders say for a period of hours earlier this month the date of births and social security numbers for more than 50 workers were accidentally available for anyone to see on the internet.

Those listed in the documents -- which were hyper-linked to a Bangor Daily News Article published on April 7, 2014 -- included past sheriffs deputies at the Washington County Sheriffs Office as well as many others who still work in law enforcement. Some of those employees still work for the county and are now left asking what went wrong.

"It's (the information) a huge part of your identity," said Jonathon Rolfe, who is a former sheriffs deputy with the office that had his number posted, "and to have that accessible by anybody or was accessible by anybody..it's just unbelievable."

State officials say the employee records were submitted weeks ago by the sheriffs office to the Maine Secretary of State's office. Director Matt Dunlap says the paperwork was entered by an attorney for Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith as evidence in an eligibility case he was waging against two people running for his office.

State and county officials say while the documents were being held by both offices, the names and social security numbers on the them were not redacted, and that was also the case when they were turned over to the Bangor Daily News.

"Later on when those records were requested by the media..they were transmitted...and they were published in their entirety," Dunlap said, "I don't think there was any concerted effort to expose people to any type of risk..but it just kind of fell through the cracks that way."

Washington County leaders say not long after the article was posted on April 7, they were able to make contact with the BDN and have the documents taken down. Officials say since that time they have been making an effort to reach out to anyone who may have had their information compromised.

"We're also looking perhaps for some of the relatives who may be involved," said Chris Gardner, who is chair of the board of commissioners, "because some of these people on these lists may be deceased now...in general what we're trying to do is to make sure they're aware of all of their options."

Officials with the Bangor Daily News declined to go on camera Wednesday but told NEWS CENTER they are taking steps to make sure a case like this doesn't get repeated. Neither sheriff Smith or his attorney offered any further comment on the matter.

Washington County leaders say they are still looking to reach out to people who are either on or have relatives on this list. Submitted records detailed workers at the sheriffs office for a period of three years in the late 1990s.
Anyone with any concerns about their data should contact the county commissioners office.


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