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back to article Passport snooping public servant faces year in the can

A bored former State Department analyst faces up to a year behind bars as a result of his penchant for reading the passport files of celebrities. Lawrence Yontz, 48, of Arlington, Virginia, looked as the passport applications of Barack Obama and John McCain as well as various unnamed celebs, athletes, businessmen, and even game …

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Silver badge

Would Never Happen in the UK

We don't have to worry, the ID card database will be highly secure and immune from such casual curiosity.

(can I request a tongue-in-cheek icon?)

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Black Helicopters

I want one!

Hey - a really cool electronic data widgemidoo with everyone's data on it, that anyone of 20'000 people can play with on their lunch break if it's raining and they have to play inside?

Sounds like a good idea.

Why don't we have anything like this on the boards in the UK?

Oh, hang on...

M

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Anonymous Coward

Needs $3 trillion bailout

He accessed Obamas passport record, if he accessed unimportant ones nobody would do squat because normal people don't count. This is why UK MPs car number plates are blurred on TV, yet ordinary people's details are handed over by the DVLA. One rule for them, one rule for us.

/offtopic

The title, comes from my estimate of the cost of a bailout. Assume 100 million homes in the US, assume $30k overpricing per home = $3 trillion, not $700 billion.

Money made by the Federal Reserve, not backed by growth, that was pumped into the US economy over the last 8 years causes overpricing of US assets like property. If we just consider the bad mortgages, I estimate it would be at least $3 trillion in bad domestic property assets and perhaps another $5 trillion in other assets. Once you put tax money in the trough and let them feed, they'll want to dump all their bad depts on the taxpayer and it will be more difficult to resist the next request for more money.

If I were them (but hey what do I know), I'd fund a new clean bank and if any bank collapses buy the *good* assets into that bank, leave the creditors with the bad ones. Sell on the good loans in better times and buffer the people kicked out of their homes using social payments.

i.e. let the greedy idiots lose their shirts, but keep the people who work and pay their mortgages in their homes.

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Flame

Passport Snooping

That's good that he gets a year, now I hope that when the government loses our info they're sent to jail or at least hunted down and shot. You can't have it two ways.

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Boffin

Crazy guy

I have access to BT records on my laptop. I would never be so stupid as to look at other peoples data, (OK just a few times, maybe twice.)

Every transaction on CSS or intra.bt.com is logged!

AC because I work for BT & understand security.

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Thumb Up

Re: Crazy guy

"I work for BT & understand security."

Thanks for my first laugh of the day.

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Pirate

Bloody Nutters in charge of the Asylum

Again we have another scapegoat hung up to dry rather than admit the authorities screwed up!!! What is wrong with America these days, is McCarthy-ism back all over again???

I used to work on the Council Tax desk and at BT and this was often done when the phones were quiet, for a bit of a laugh, we were even *gasp* allowed to speak to them sometimes.....

so someone can access Joe Blow's records with no consequences suffered but he looks up the records of someone IMPORTANT and he's off to jail!! This is pathetic and America needs a serious kick up the ass and soon!

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Anonymous Coward

@ AC - WTF?

So, these personal records on your laptop? What part of "understanding security" does that fall under?

Or do you mean accessible *from* your laptop?

If it's the former, you're an idiot.

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Silver badge

@ac 2313 23/9/08

Do they still use CSS? They were using that eight years ago when I was in a callcentre setting up peoples answerphones.

Well, you could use SMART or CSS [smart being a GUI front end for it], but CSS was favoured as it wasn't slower than a doped slug after a night on the tiles...

Right enough though, everything is audit trailled on that system - reverse lookups [IE the opposite of a directory enuiry ; using the number to get an address] was a sackable offence if you didn't work within certain departments, as I recall...

Steven R

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Coat

What about the other days of the week

"Yontz admitted accessing around 200 passport records on Monday"

How many did he access on Tuesday?

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Anonymous Coward

What about his manager?

The manager got repeated notification that "sensitive data was been accessed for no good reasons" but did nothing? A stern talking-to after the first warning would have stopped the whole thing before it mattered. Now someone is facing prison because his manager couldn't be arsed to act on alert notifications. I hope that management team is also up against the "internal disciplinary hearings," but history suggests they probably aren't.

If management sends the message that it's OK to ignore rules, then that's what people will do. Don't they teach that in business school?

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Joke

@Dave

No need for an icon on that one. The tongue in cheekiness of it was bleedin' obvious as it was spelled correctly and made sense.

Anyone dumb enough to take that seriously would have written: "That ID databaase will of be secure anyways" or similar.

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Alert

I worked at BT too

In sales - Residential then Business. We used CSS, as Smart in residential and then the new thing for both Res and Biz was so ridiculously slow and cumbersome, and broke constantly. CSS actually let you do things, once you knew the codes for it.

I looked at my own bill a few times, even sold myself my own broadband (I know, I know, I wasn't aware of the whole Phorm debacle back then).

In sales, we often looked at accounts using CSS that I suppose we weren't meant to, quite often for a laugh, usually just because we got all sorts of calls coming through, from MP's that should have been calling a specific contact number, to football clubs (I had a list of all of Arsenal's, Fulham's and Portsmouth's numbers)...

Reverse lookup was a common practice, and we used to just type in random numbers to see what came up as well. Never mentioned, never considered, I doubt the managers even knew unless they were looking over our shoulders, occasionally suggesting numbers to put in and have a look at!

BT and security? You would have to be a muppet to get caught by BT doing anything you weren't supposed to, or potentially incredibly unlucky!

Also, if you were any good at sales, you could pretty much do anything you liked, within reason. I know of a former salesperson who swore not once, but 4 times in the earshot of customers (different occasions). All 4 times the customers complained, on one occasion so loudly 14 customers complained (this was in a call centre in case you hadn't realised). She lost her job for calling the centre manager a C.U.Next Tuesday. She was good at sales.

As I recall, swearing was instant dismissal if customers complained about it, unless you had, say, just lost a limb...

makes you think...

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Is there more to this ?

Three people get caught but only one goes to trial ?

Did this person tell the other two how to do it ? Was he selling the details on to third parties ?

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Bronze badge
Black Helicopters

Clearly,

the people he spied on must have had something to hide.

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Black Helicopters

BT & Security

I've never worked for BT so don't have personal knowledge, but surely not *all* their employees are total fsckwits?

Admittedly most of the ones I've dealt with on the phone are a few ants short of a picnic (at best), but given that they employ a lot of people there must be some intelligent life in there somewhere? I mean, it's not like they are a political party is it?

AC because I *do* know people who "work" in politics (both Local and National levels) and am on Company time...

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Bronze badge

@Alan Fisher

"Again we have another scapegoat hung up to dry rather than admit the authorities screwed up!!! What is wrong with America these days, is McCarthy-ism back all over again???

I used to work on the Council Tax desk and at BT and this was often done when the phones were quiet, for a bit of a laugh, we were even *gasp* allowed to speak to them sometimes.....

so someone can access Joe Blow's records with no consequences suffered but he looks up the records of someone IMPORTANT and he's off to jail!! This is pathetic and America needs a serious kick up the ass and soon!"

a few things you need to know about America. We still have privacy laws. If a government official access your records with out a legit reason that is a crime . If some in the phone company access your records with a legit reason thats a crime. Are you saying that any one inside of company should have access to your records ??? If that's the case sign up for phorm

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Happy

@Kain Preacher

So 'Retrospective Immunity' didn't happen then?

Face it your privacy laws don't count unless it's someone important that gets peeked - other than that sounds like you have to access hundreds of records before anyone even bothers to notice

No one is saying everyone should have access to your records - quite the reverse, we just tend to be realists and admit that if you give people the ability then they will. Laws don't stop this, they just punish the people dumb enough to peek on the wrong people

Go back to sleep and they might let you 'vote' for your new overlord in a few months

Smiley cos it's either that or cry

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@ EnricoSuarve

Thats why they had to grant immunity because the way the law was written. When I was at SBC I did see people get walked for accessing people records with out cause . Dont know what its like on that side of the pond, but the local telcos will fire people for that kind of crap. In a gov job it takes alot more I'll admit that.

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Anonymous Coward

databaase is a typo

Why aren't medical records and other 'sensitive' databases hooked up to leave marks behind saying who accessed them when, and for what reason??

Of course snooping goes on all around us, the problem is getting caught. I am curious as to what purpose snooping at passports serves though..

IMO anyone who snoops at important details (bank, medical etc belonging to ANYONE) ought to get about 3 to 5 years in jail or at least 1 year minimum. Firing someone is a ridiculous 'punishment' and well worth the risk when you consider there is almost no chance of getting caught (let alone punished) and an amazing amount of juicy/damaging info to be gained.

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