We’ve talked before about allegations of insiders abusing or misusing their access privileges to violate people’s rights— including an immigration officer in Britain who added his wife to a terrorist watchlist. In May, nearly three dozen employees of Allina Hospitals and clinics in Minnesota were fired over charges of violating the privacy of patients. In January in Tucson, University Medical Center officials fired three employees for violating privacy of patients connected to the shooting rampage of which Jared Loughner is accused. Last year, Ohio police, court and DMV employees used their access to government databases to violate the privacy of an “American Idol” contestant. In 2009, the Boston Globe reported that the Massachusetts state auditor has found misuse by law enforcement officials of the criminal records system. Police pried into the personal data of Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, actor Matt Damon, Boston Celtics player Paul Pierce and others.
Now, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an ex-State Department employee is charged with snooping into passport records. (This isn’t the first time there have been concerns about the security of passport files. In 2008, the State Department found that federal employees repeatedly snooped into the passport files of entertainers, athletes and other high-profile Americans — including Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama. A similar breach occurred in 1992, with then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s records.) The Chronicle reports:
A former longtime U.S. State Department employee in San Francisco was charged with peeking at – and sometimes printing out – passport applications of more than 100 celebrities, records show.
Richard G. Macias, a 24-year passport agency employee until his retirement in May, was charged in U.S. District Court in San Francisco with three misdemeanor counts of exceeding authorized computer access. He was accused in a document known as an information, which in federal court typically signals that a defendant intends to plead guilty to at least one charge. […]
Macias had most recently served as fraud prevention manager and was responsible for designing programs to prevent passport fraud and “identify fraud vulnerabilities and trends,” authorities said.
But between 2003 and 2009, Macias improperly logged on to the State Department’s passport records system 168 times to view the applications of actors, models and musicians, authorities said. The celebrities were not named.