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Privacy? What Privacy?

Friday, November 21, 2008, 15:44 EST Leave a comment Go to comments

From the Columbua Dispatch, an old story playing out:

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is standing by an agency director who OK’d improper computer checks for confidential information on “Joe the Plumber” and used state e-mails for political fundraising.

Strickland announced today that Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Department of Job and Family Services, will be placed on unpaid leave for one month in response to an inspector general’s investigation.

The investigation found Jones-Kelley had no legitimate reasons to check on Toledo-area resident Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who was popularized as “Joe the Plumber” by Republican presidential candidate John McCain. It also confirmed she improperly used her state e-mail account to raise campaign money for President-elect Barack Obama.

Some Republican leaders, who cited the report’s findings to call on Democrat Strickland to fire Jones-Kelley, were stunned that she will remain on the job.

And from the Associated Press, another story just emerging:

Verizon employees snuck a peek at President-elect Barack Obama’s old cell phone records and will be reprimanded accordingly, the company said late Thursday.

Obama aides said no voicemails or e-mails were accessed.

In a statement, Verizon Wireless President and CEO Lowell McAdam apologized to Obama and disclosed the breach, saying: “a number of Verizon Wireless employees have, without authorization, accessed and viewed President-elect Barack Obama’s personal cell phone account.”

A work colleague with whom I discussed this story this morning contended that the Verizon incident wasn’t as big of an issue because no actual calls or messages were intercepted, the information wasn’t made public, and it wasn’t used for political purposes. But those are lame arguments. Sensitive information could have been obtained, it could have been made public, and any abuse of personal information is wrong, whether it’s politically motivated or not.

Why aren’t these people being fired?

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