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    Smoking Gun: ‘IRS Worker Snooped on Stars’

    The Smoking Gun finds a misdemeanor criminal complaint against a 56-year-old tax examiner from Cincinnati accused of improperly “accessing the computerized accounts of ‘at least 202 taxpayers,’ almost all of which were Hollywood figures, sports stars, and ‘well-known Cincinnati-area individuals.’” The list includes: Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, John Cleese, the Coen brothers, Portia de Rossi, Sally Field, and former Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs baseball players.

    Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a string of cases where government or hospital employees are accused of using their authorized access to records for unauthorized purposes. In some of the cases, security procedures alerted officials to possible snooping, but in other instances the lack of safeguards was egregious. Some recent scandals are listed after the jump.

    — In May, five IRS workers in California were charged with illegally viewing the tax records of 13 people. The IRS routinely audits employees’ computers and found abnormalities that led to the accused.

    — In April, an administrator at UCLA Medical Center was indicted for allegedly selling celebrity patients’ medical data to the media. A California Department of Public Health investigation into the administrator’s alleged activities found 68 former or current UCLA Medical Center employees suspected of snooping in celebrity patients’ medical files. The original administrator is accused of improperly reviewing Farrah Fawcett’s medical records on 104 days in less than one year – if true, this shows a clear lack of appropriate security at the hospital.

    — In March, the State Department announced that three contract employees improperly accessed the confidential passport files of Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama. Computer security protocols in place alerted officials to the breaches. A similar breach occurred in 1992, with then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s records.

    — In October 2007, a New Jersey hospital suspended 27 employees for a month without pay for unauthorized accessing of the medical files of George Clooney and his girlfriend, who were being treated after a motorcycle accident. The hospital investigated after medical details were leaked to the media.

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