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    USA Today: States give inmates access to personal data of others

    USA Today reports that some states give prisoners access to the personal data of members of the public:

    Prisons in eight states let convicts work in jobs that give them access to Social Security numbers and other personal information for the public, despite years of warnings that the practice should end, a federal audit finds.

    Most of the prisoners hold jobs processing public records for federal, state and local governments, according to the audit released this month by the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General. The work often involves entering and processing data on documents such as student transcripts, tax files, and health care and labor claims forms. […]

    The audit notes that the Social Security Administration has no power to force states to halt the practice and urges passage of legislation pending in Congress that would bar states from giving prisoners jobs where they have access to private citizens’ personal information. States where prisoners hold such jobs: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia. […]

    A previous audit by the inspector general in 2006 found that 13 states allowed prisoners to work in jobs where they had access to Social Security numbers and other personal data. Since then, the new audit says, five of those states have barred the practice. […]

    The Social Security Administration will push for legislation to bar prison systems from letting inmates work in jobs where they can access Social Security numbers, the agency says in a written statement. Officials also will consider making direct appeals to states that still allow the practice and asking them to stop.

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