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Utah Governor Herbert sells voters’ personal information after removing his own

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Key points:

  • The Herbert administration has presided over multiple releases of personal information since 2010.
  • The Herbert administration, with the full support of the Utah state senate, sells the records of all 1.5 million Utah registered voters after deleting the records of Herbert and other senior political elites and their families.
  • A private website has posted the entire 1.5 million name voter list on line in a free, searchable and downloadable format which facilitates scams and identity theft. If you were registered to vote when the list was sold by the Lt. Governor, your information is there.
  • Elite politicians tell citizens “If you want to vote, you have to agree to make your personal information public but we don’t because we are special.”

Herbert Administration Fails to Protect Utahns Personal Information

With the breach of retailing giant Target’s website, politicians expressed shock and outrage over Target’s failure to protect the credit and debit card information of millions of Americans.

However, public officials routinely fail to protect Americans’ personal data. For example, in Utah, Governor Gary Herbert has presided over some of the worst data breaches in the nation by a state government (see the list at end of this article). Under his leadership, millions of Utahns have had their personal information made public either accidentally or even worse, deliberately.

In its biggest single, ongoing release of personal information, the Herbert administration sells the names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth (month/day/year) and political party affiliation of virtually every one of Utah’s 1.5 million registered voters to anyone willing to pay $1,050 for it.

Political Elites Personal Information Not Sold

However, like Washington politicians who exempt themselves from the laws they pass, Herbert’s personal information, along with that of other senior elected elites and their families, is deleted from the voter list before it is sold. Thus, the governor places his personal information and that of selected others above that of the Utah voters who elected him to office.

1.5 Million Utah Voters Private Information Online

To make matters worse, the Utah voter registration list sold by the state of Utah is now on a free, public website. The site can be searched online without password or charge and the private information of 1.5 million Utah voters’ can be downloaded in spreadsheet format, free of charge, by anyone with access to a computer anywhere in the world.

The voter list can be used to quickly locate any Utah registered voter, including the Mormon Church’s most senior officials, by name, by address or by birthdate. When one individual is located by address, all family members registered to vote at that address are also listed and their personal information can be quickly accessed.

Identity Theft and Scam Lists

Once downloaded, the spreadsheet can be sorted on birthdate to develop either phone or mail “scam lists” targeting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Utah senior citizens.

If an individual on Medicare has her Medicare card, which has her name and Social Security number on it stolen, all the thief has to do is to go to the online voter list in order to get her complete birthdate, address and phone number. With that information, he has the defenseless senior’s total identity.

The same holds true for anyone finding the military identification card of a Utahn that still carries the individual’s name and Social Security number.

Elites Refuse to Protect Voter Information

Efforts by citizens to get the legislature to protect their personal data were consistently stymied by former Lt. Governor Greg Bell, whose name was also coincidentally excluded from the voter registration lists that his office was selling. The Utah House of Representatives voted on a number of occasions to stop the sale of the birth dates of private citizens only to see its efforts killed by the Utah senate.

Interestingly, the personal information, including the home address, birthdate, phone number, etc., of the recently appointed Lt. Governor who replaced Bell, Spencer Cox, is available on the free online list as is the information for his spouse since that list was posted before he assumed the Lt. Governor position.

The personal information of Utah’s newly appointed Attorney General, Sean Reyes and his spouse is also online along with that of state auditor, John Dougall and his family since the Auditor apparently does not rate the same special treatment as those selling the list and their cronies do.

Thus, the Herbert administration and the Utah state senate have made it clear that they do not take the protection of Utahns’ personal information seriously.

Don’t Register or Cancel Voter Registration to Protect Private Information

The Utah state senate, with the full support of the Herbert Administration, refuses to let people vote unless they make their personal information public. So, the only way Utahns can protect this personal information is to either refuse to register to vote or to cancel their existing voter registration.

On the other hand, the private website that posts the voter list allows individuals to have their names removed from the list that it posts online. However, it warns people that “The State’s voter list, and any copies anybody obtains from the State, will continue to contain the information about you, but we can remove the information from the pages on this site.”

So, a private organization that posts the personal data of millions of Utahns purchased from the state of Utah shows more concern for individual privacy than does the Utah governor and the Utah state senate.

Equal Treatment of All

If the Herbert administration and the state senate insists on releasing the personal information of millions of Utahns, then they should make the governor’s and other senior officials’ and their families’ personal information public as well. After all, it their dates of birth, phone numbers, addresses and party affiliations are too sensitive to be made public the same should hold true for all Utah voters.

-------------------

Releases of personal information under the Herbert administration since 2010 include the following:

  • Continuously. The state of Utah sells the Utah Voter Data base with the personal information of 1.5 million Utah voters to anyone willing to pay $1,050. Information sold includes a registered voter’s name, address, phone number, birthdate (month/day/year), voter registration number, party affiliation, voting history, etc.
  • July 2010. A list containing the personal information of 1,300 people believed to be illegal aliens was released by Utah Workforce Service employees. "Release of such private, sensitive information is deplorable," Gov. Gary Herbert said in a news release according to CNN.
  • March 30, 2012. An estimated 780,000 Utahns covered by Medicaid or thought to be eligible for Medicaid along with those enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Plan had personal information stolen by hackers in Eastern Europe who were able to access the Utah Department of Technology Service's server. Information taken included names, dates of birth, addresses, Social Security numbers, etc. Herbert was quoted by the Salt Lake Tribune as saying: "As a state government we have failed to honor that commitment [to protect Utah families and their personal data]," he said. "For that, as your governor and as a Utahn, I am deeply sorry." Yet, Herbert continues to support the sale of the voter data base, minus his personal information, even though it has most of the same information on it.
  • January 2013. The Utah Health Department revealed that a USB memory stick with 6,000 Medicaid recipients’ protected health information (PHI) was reported lost by a third party contractor.
  • December 6, 2013. Up to 97,000 Utahns receiving training funds, unemployment insurance and payroll from Utah’s Workforce Services may have had their personal information compromised due to a data breach. The compromised data includes names, addresses, Social Security numbers, UCard numbers, passwords, logins and security questions.
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