back to article Slain: Unions' US OPM mega-hack lawsuit against Uncle Sam

A lawsuit brought against the hacker-ransacked Office of Personnel Management on behalf of US federal employees has been killed. On Wednesday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled in a District of Columbia court that the case, brought by the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, could …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm one of the people caught up in this due to my security clearance. I don't see the Chinese, if they really are the actors involved, using this for financial gain. Crossing fingers. Just being able to identify individuals who may be agents of the US is probably enough gain. Now if a "spy" gets killed or suddenly we wake up to fraud against our accounts, then you can say harm has occurred.

    It might be nice to be able to file a claim against the US government. Hell, given that the VA did the same with my records, I'd have two claims, even ignoring other incidents (and that my identity has already been stolen at least once). However, no matter what the outcome, I can't see the US government being able to sufficiently tighten safeguards as to make a difference. Fines against government agencies do not result in altered behavior. To them, it isn't real money.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      "Now if a "spy" gets killed or suddenly we wake up to fraud against our accounts, then you can say harm has occurred."

      Spy agencies don't kill people often. They bribe or blackmail. You're on a big long list of blackmail targets. If it were me I'd be up at night wondering what crime or other nefarious wrongdoing I was about to be set up for. That's harm, in my book, and under English law, I guess not US law.

      1. Lysenko

        re: That's harm, in my book, and under English law...

        What precedent are you relying on here? It certainly isn't true in the general case that you have an action in tort for theoretically elevated risk where no actual harm can yet be established. If it were then anyone who has been anywhere near asbestos could sue even if their lung function is perfectly normal (add vast list of similar speculative actions).

    2. alpacaherder
      Black Helicopters

      "Fines against government agencies do not result in altered behavior. To them, it isn't real money."

      Firings, getting drummed out of the Senior Executive Service, losing your pension, being sent to count penguins in the Arctic Circle by virtue of a written Direction of The President...those things result in altered behavior.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      @Jack of Shadows

      the problem is, at the end of the day, the compensation comes out of your own pocket, as a tax payer...

      A criminal negligence case, on the other hand, might wake them up, if the top brass ended up in prison or with a suspended sentence and unable to work for the treasury.

      With the stolen information, I would think it opens up a lot of avenues for blackmailing US government workers.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey OPM!

    Who do you think you are, Equifax?

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Hey OPM!

      Equinefax probably hires the OPM rejects.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I hope the reviewers ( https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/09/18/first_annual_privacy_shield_review/ ) of the Privacy Figleaf are taking note of this decision. It indicates that the US legal system does not regard disclosure of PII as being a harm in itself but only as a possible facilitator of harm.

  4. alpacaherder

    How Would We Know When The Harm Happened?

    The initial thought after the hack was that a state-sponsored entity was behind it. How can individuals know when they've been impacted until frankly a spy scandal is likely in progress? Individual civil servants can't undertake massive counterintelligence efforts on their own. There are other units for that. I'm not trained to do counterintelligence. It is bad enough trying to work daily with a museum piece mainframe. The early days of BOFH pre-2000 describe my job today.

    I don't buy Lenovo now. I shy away from Xiaomi. I'll never be visiting the People's Republic of China for the rest of my natural life.

    I'm glad Tony Reardon at least tried with the lawsuit on behalf of NTEU members. There wasn't much hope to it even at the outset. Hopefully union dues aren't wasted on pursuing any long shots on appeal if counsel say there is no hope of success.

  5. puzuk
    Facepalm

    The Judge has obviously never read Tom Clancy's True Faith and Allegiance.....

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