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By Nick Wakeman

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William Welsh

Readers blast DHS effort to harvest personal information

Washington Technology received a number of trenchant comments about the July 1 Web story, “DHS requires more personal information from employees, contractors,” by staff writer Alice Lipowicz.

The majority of those commenting took Homeland Security Department officials to task for launching an initiative to expand the personal information it retains on employees, contractors and volunteers who regularly need access to DHS facilities.

Paul John Russo called the effort “onerous” and wrote: “The data should only have to be collected during the course of background investigations by either DHS or supporting organizations to support hiring or security clearance investigations by DHS or supporting organizations but should not be required simply to get an ID card that has a fixed expiration date.”

Arthur Downs took a grim view of events, asking “Does this reflect an agenda promoted by Janet Napolitano or some unnamed ‘commissar’ serving in subordinate capacity.”

Russo and others were deeply concerned about the privacy aspect in light of a number of data breaches by government agencies. An anonymous commenter, citing the growing number of data breaches from government mismanagement as opposed to cyberattacks, asked: “How many employees and contractors have confidence that all this personal information will be handled correctly and used correctly?”

In the minority, Frank Landry felt that it was appropriate for the department to ask employees and contractor personnel for additional information. “It’s about time some one stood up and said, 'If you want to work in this business, then you have to give up more information about yourself.'”

Posted by William Welsh on Jul 02, 2009 at 9:54 AM

Reader Comments

Tue, Jul 7, 2009 Joe MI

This is one more example of the intrusion of the government into our private lives. The DHS is requesting personal data that will be kept on file and could be used later by the government or hacked into by some one else. The census bureau is requesting all sorts of personal, financial, and habitual information on individuals as well. Will the benefits actually out weigh the threat of misuse? I don't think so!

Tue, Jul 7, 2009

I think you are the bonehead. This is about criminal background checks for ordinary people. It is about registering in some database and giving the government more information than they need. The responsibility is upon the facility to safeguard its employees and not upon visitors to prove they 'qualify' for admittance. This isn't about proving you are who you say you are.

Mon, Jul 6, 2009 walkerrussellc NH

What a "bonehead".

A background check is not an invasion of privacy and with the potential threats from any number of sources, domestic and foreign it is prudent to know who is in your facility at any given time.

We manage a hospital where "walk in anytime" was the norm until a string of thefts began to occur and lo and behold; contractors on site had personnel with felonies and pending criminal cases coming up AND we found this out by security simply "googling" the names on the temporary workers' badges!

So, lighten up when someone askes for some ID.

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