The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts state auditor has found misuse by law enforcement officials of the criminal records system. Police have pried into the personal data of Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, actor Matt Damon, Boston Celtics player Paul Pierce and others. I have written previously about the ease with which insiders are able to access sensitive personal data of celebrities, including stars’ health data.
Police from communities across the state have repeatedly tapped into the state’s criminal records system to improperly access information on celebrities and “high-profile citizens,” according to a scathing audit released yesterday that also branded the system as obsolete and flawed. […]
The Criminal Offender Record Information system, with its massive databases of criminal records, driving histories, car ownership, and Social Security numbers, is intended to provide police and prosecutors with complete portraits of individuals who have been arrested or brought into the court system. Reports are available to other users such as landlords and some employers conducting background checks on prospective tenants and job seekers. Access is supposed to be restricted to authorized law enforcement users, who are specially trained.
But the yearlong review by state Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci depicts a system repeatedly accessed by users “without any apparent work-related justification.” […]
Curtis Wood, executive director of the Criminal History Systems Board, acknowledged that inappropriate searches have been made over the years, but said the number is small. […]
DeNucci’s audit condemned the decades-old system as antiquated, highly vulnerable to mistakes, and easily accessed by unauthorized users. With terminals in many locations that allowed anyone to look up information, the system permitted law enforcement officials access without fear of being identified and detected.
“Consequently, potential unethical activities” such as searches for celebrity information escaped more or less undetected, the audit said.