An Associated Press exclusive report finds:
Documents provided to The Associated Press under an open records request show that Affiliated Computer Services Inc. sought permission from the Family and Social Services Administration to use [Indiana’s] welfare data to screen job applicants for fraud or other welfare program violations.
The U.S. Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees the food stamp program, objected when it learned from FSSA in July that the state agency might share the data. […]
An executive with Affiliated Computer Services said the Dallas-based company never used the data to screen job applicants.
The data-sharing proposal, however, raises questions about the privacy of the personal financial information and other data that qualifies 1.2 million Indiana adults and children for food stamps, Medicaid and other welfare benefits. […]
The information is entered into FSSA’s Indiana Client Eligibility System database when someone applies for benefits. The data includes Social Security numbers, income including child support, home addresses, bank account balances and housing expenses. […]
[Information privacy expert Fred Cate, director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington,] said laws provide little protection to people who provide personal information to government agencies. Governments routinely sell that information, but it usually involves public documents, such as land deeds.
Cate also said that once a private company gets people’s personal information from the government, there’s little if anything to stop it from sharing the data further, for instance, with a customer or a partner.