Civil Liberties

Minnesota Attorney Is Just One Victim in Police Database-Snooping Scandal


Reason 24/7

A couple of months ago we heard that Florida cops were abusing driver and vehicle databases to gain information on a fellow officer who had the nerve to arrest one of their own — as well as for other run-of-the-mill, unofficial creepiness. Now we discover that misuse of databases by police is a problem in Minnesota, too. One of the more prominent targets of data-trawling is a former police union attorney, who was the subject of hundreds of unauthorized inquiries.

From The Pioneer-Press:

Brooke Bass spent her legal career looking out for the best interests of police officers.

They were looking out for her, too, her lawyer says—but in a different way.

In the past eight years, more than 100 entities across Minnesota—nearly all of them law enforcement—accessed Bass's private driver's license information more than 700 times, her attorney said.

That would make her the subject of the biggest privacy breach to date in the state's increasingly broad and increasingly expensive license-data debacle.

As the article makes clear, the problem doesn't begin and end with Bass. In fact, it's so widespread that "at least one law firm has placed an ad in a newspaper in southwestern Minnesota seeking claimants." There's certainly more to come, since the Legislative Auditor's office "found more than half of Minnesota law enforcement personnel with access to driver's license data might have made inappropriate searches."

Note that IRS agents have been caught entertaining themselves with similar searches of the sensitive records at their disposal, for both fun and profit. But as government agencies acquire and store ever-more information about our finances, guns, health and many other matters, they're sure to get it right eventually? Aren't they?

Yeah. Right.

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