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    Update on State Department passport snooping scandal

    PC World has an update on the State Department’s scandal concerning insiders misusing their access to government databases. “An employee of the U.S. Department of State was sentenced Wednesday to 12 months of probation for illegally accessing more than 125 electronic passport application files,” PC World reports.

    Kevin M. Young, 42, of Temple Hills, Maryland, was also ordered by Judge Alan Kay, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to perform 100 hours of community service. Young pleaded guilty on Aug. 17 to one count of unauthorized computer access. […]

    Young had access to official State Department computer databases, including the Passport Information Electronic Records System (PIERS), which contains all imaged passport applications dating back to 1994. The passport applications on PIERS contain applicants’ names, dates of birth, current addresses, parent information and other personal data. […]

    Between March 11, 2003, and Dec. 21, 2005, Young logged onto the PIERS database and viewed the passport applications of more than 125 celebrities, actors, comedians, professional athletes, musicians, models, a politician and other individuals identified in the press, the DOJ said. In his guilty plea, Young said he had no official government reason to view these passport applications, and his reason for doing so was “idle curiosity,” the DOJ said.

    Young is the eighth current or former State Department employee or contractor to plead guilty since September 2008 to charges related to passport snooping. Most of the other defendants have received sentences of probation, community service, or fines.

    In March 2008, the State Department announced that three contract employees improperly accessed the confidential passport files of Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama. In July 2008, the Inspector General of the State Department released a report that found federal employees repeatedly snooped into the passport files of entertainers, athletes and other high-profile Americans. The Inspector General conducted the audit (pdf) after the breach of the senators’ files.

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