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Gov't Computers Used to Find Info on "Joe the Plumber" 793

Posted by timothy
from the wurzelbacher-wurzelbacher-french-is-it? dept.
After Joe Wurzelbacher of Ohio gained fame as "Joe the Plumber" in the course of the current presidential campaign, it seems that he's drawn more than idle curiosity from people with access to what should probably be confidential information. An anonymous reader writes with a story from The Columbus Dispatch that "government insiders accessed Joe the Plumber's records soon after the McCain-Obama debate. 'Public records requested by The Dispatch disclose that information on Wurzelbacher's driver's license or his sport-utility vehicle was pulled from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles database three times shortly after the debate. Information on Wurzelbacher was accessed by accounts assigned to the office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department.' Welcome to 1984."
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Gov't Computers Used to Find Info on "Joe the Plumber"

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  • Open your eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xaxa (988988) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:04PM (#25520919)

    This stuff isn't just happening in the UK.

    • Re:Open your eyes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gordonjcp (186804) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:18PM (#25521041) Homepage

      This stuff isn't just happening in the UK.

      It's not actually happening in the UK. Unlike the US, doing this kind of thing is illegal in the UK. We have this thing called the Data Protection Act, which the US does not have.

      • Re:Open your eyes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:21PM (#25521067)

        GP is conflating the issue with the over-surveillance debate. (As cued by the 1984 reference).
        But the problem here is the leak, not registration of vehicles. Because every industrialized nation has been doing that since forever.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The problem is that people are nosy motherfuckers who are too lazy to learn about things that would distract them from trying to find entertainment in others' misery.
          • Re:Open your eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

            by pimpimpim (811140) on Monday October 27, 2008 @05:03AM (#25524481)
            The other problem is that, once you put the mechanisms in place that endanger freedom and privacy, they will be misused. Just ask the Icelandic government that had their UK assets frozen because the UK could make convenient use of an "anti-terrorism" act that allowed for uninhibited blocking of money assets.
            • Re:Open your eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

              by MindKata (957167) on Monday October 27, 2008 @07:59AM (#25525241) Journal
              "The other problem is that, once you put the mechanisms in place that endanger freedom and privacy, they will be misused."

              Sadly that's very true. Unfortunately the lessons of history have not been learned by enough people. Looks like the world is seeking to repeat the mistakes of the past. Freedom and democracy are constantly undermined by a minority of people in power for their own gain. Its just a matter of time and how far we are going to let them all game the system, to push the excesses ever more unfairly in their favour. After all, its not as if they are robbing hundreds of billions of tax payers money to keep their rich lifestyles while millions risk loosing everything.

              People who seek power over others, therefore seek information to gain power over others. Its been happening for centuries, in every country. Over the past few decades its become known as "Opposition Research". Here's just a short example of how government after government, in the US from the 1940s, used "Opposition Research" to seek ways to manipulate people.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_research#Opposition_research_conducted_from_the_White_House [wikipedia.org]
              Manipulating people (and so finding ways to apply pressure over people) is simply part of the game, when someone is seeking to gain power over someone else.

              This is why total Big Brother information control is so dangerous. Its going to allow the people in power to automate ways to profile opponents and then allow them to automate ways to make life difficult for the groups which oppose the point of view of the group in power. This is why centuries ago votes were made in secret, to prevent the ones in power, from seeking to influence the voters. Yet the power seekers are forever seeking to game the system to gain ever more information on peoples opinions. Now the ones in power are building automated systems to influence people. Throughout history its been shown time and time again that the ones in power become ever more corrupt over time without any feedback on how they are behaving. Its been show so many times through history.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Ooo, there's a law against it, so it doesn't happen - yeah, right; even with this law, the Government seems determined to 'lose' every ones' information

      • Re:Open your eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ravenshrike (808508) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:14PM (#25521503)
        Actually, this is illegal in the US.Which is the point of the article.

        It's in the first damned paragraph.

        "State and local officials are investigating if state and law-enforcement computer systems were illegally accessed when they were tapped for personal information about "Joe the Plumber."

      • Re:Open your eyes (Score:5, Informative)

        by Fluffeh (1273756) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:10PM (#25521945)

        First they came for those who wanted more than 120 characters, but I did not speak out, because I did not want more tha

        That has to be one of the funniest sigs I have seen. It's clever and works so well on so many levels. Bravo!

      • Re:Open your eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by THESuperShawn (764971) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:41PM (#25522095)

        So, there's nothing like this going on in the UK? I'm hoping you meant the university of Kentucky, because another place with the same initials has quite a different opinion on the matter.....

        From news.bbc.co.uk....

        "Britain is 'surveillance society'"

        "There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain - about one for every 14 people - making it one of the most watched places on earth."

        "CCTV in Britain's streets can trace its genesis back to a limited system set up for the Queen's coronation in 1953. By the 1960s there was permanent CCTV in some London streets. Now there are an estimated four million cameras in the country, viewing us as many as 300 times a day."

        "Digital CCTV systems can be configured to use face-recognition and look for criminal suspects."

        "An estimated £500m of public money has been spent on installing CCTV in the last decade."

        "Cameras that could recognises the registration plates on suspect vehicles were first used to track IRA suspects in London. Now the technology is used for speed cameras, traffic enforcement cameras and in London's congestion charging zone."

        "A massively growing area of surveillance technology is radio frequency ID tags...Perhaps the most controversial use of RFID to date in the UK was in 2003 when an RFID tracking system was used in the packaging of Gillette Mach3 razor blades to stop shoplifting at one of Tesco's Cambridge branches. Anyone picking up a packet of the blades triggered CCTV surveillance of themselves in the store."

        "It is illegal not to register to vote in this country, although many people choose not to for various reasons and avoid punishment.

        The result of registration is the electoral roll - a public record of where each voter lives that has proved a goldmine to junk-mail firms, marketing people and journalists over the years...The electoral roll provides a history of every place you have ever lived. Choose not to register and you will struggle to get even the smallest amount of credit."

        Wow! Sign me up for life in this privacy utopia you call the UK. :)

        That was just the BBC....don't even get me started on this documentary I saw called "V for Vendetta".....

        I hate to use all facts from an article, this being Slashdot and all, but I just didn't feel like doing the heavy lifting tonight.

        • Re:Open your eyes (Score:5, Informative)

          by Gordonjcp (186804) on Monday October 27, 2008 @04:16AM (#25524331) Homepage

          There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain

          Bullshit. That was a figure plucked from the air by a journalist. It came from counting the number of CCTV cameras in one small section of the main street of a particularly unpleasant part of London, and then scaling that up by the total length of roads in the whole of the UK. I know I pass six cameras in total between my house and my Mum's house, most of which are concentrated in the first ten miles. For the figure of 4.2 million to be correct, I'd have to be passing a camera every few car lengths. I suspect they would be fairly conspicuous on long straight stretches of twisty moorland road, and also hard to connect up.

          "Digital CCTV systems can be configured to use face-recognition and look for criminal suspects."

          Yes, and of course only the UK is doing that. You wouldn't find that in, for instance, every major airport in the US, would you? Oh wait, that's where we got the idea from? Oh oops, sorry, disregard...

          "Cameras that could recognises the registration plates on suspect vehicles were first used to track IRA suspects in London. Now the technology is used for speed cameras, traffic enforcement cameras and in London's congestion charging zone."

          Sounds like a pretty good use for them, to me. You might not be old enough to remember this, but for a long time the UK had a serious problem with terrorism. Not the fake bullshit terrorists like people trying to set their shoes on fire, but people actually blowing up cars full of explosives and scrap metal, in busy shopping streets, and things like that. What do you suggest, leaving them to get on with it?

          It is illegal not to register to vote in this country, although many people choose not to for various reasons and avoid punishment.

          Bullshit. Lots of people don't register to vote, and there is no legal requirement to do so - although there should be.

      • UK catching up (Score:4, Informative)

        by speedtux (1307149) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:06PM (#25522265)

        We have this thing called the Data Protection Act, which the US does not have.

        In fact, not only does the US have data privacy laws, it has had them since the 1970's. It took the UK nearly a quarter of a century to catch up.

      • Re:Open your eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Money for Nothin' (754763) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:51PM (#25523281)

        It's not actually happening in the UK. Unlike the US, doing this kind of thing is illegal in the UK.

        A law without enforcement is no law at all, practically-speaking. It is merely a dream - an ideal.

        Apply your logic to jaywalking. In the U.S., jaywalking -- crossing the street outside of a crosswalk -- is a crime. But it is a very minor one; virtually nobody is ever bothered for doing it. I personally, like thousands of others daily in major metropolitan areas, have jaywalked in immediate, unobstructed view of police officers in squad cars, or on bicycles, or horses, etc.. Not once have I or anybody I've ever seen or heard of been so much as talked-to about it.

        The same thing happens with much more serious crimes: murders go unsolved all the time; the Mafia exists in spite of powerful RICO statutes and anti-racketeering laws, tens of millions spent on FBI investigations, etc..

        So long as the level of enforcement is insufficient to enforce the law, the law is irrelevant. In economic terms, if the supply of illegal behavior is not met with equivalent demand for enforcement, the illegal behavior above the supply/demand equilibrium will go unpunished...

      • Re:Open your eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Monday October 27, 2008 @04:46AM (#25524429)

        BWA-HA-HA!!!! I'm working in the UK right now. The amount of access I have to your personal data, today, via NHS files is stunning. It feels like 'Brazil' here, surrounded by incompetent bureaucrats concerned about their little procedures and quarterly reports when I'm staring at the billing information of 500,000 people in an unsecured public folder sitting open on their desktop.

        If you don't think that information gets casually read and accessed by nosy bureaucrats and pencil pushers, then you've never worked in a British bureaucracy. The only thing that protects you from 1984 style monitoring and management is the sheer incompetence of those little managers, running through all their files, muttering 'Tuttle, Tuttle, Tuttle, where the deuce is the file marked Tuttle?' They couldn't organize a thorough investigation if their coffee money and parking space depended on it. (Yes, they drink coffee, and my god, it's bad coffee.)

    • by philspear (1142299) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:49PM (#25521297)

      This is clearly the work of the union, posing as a government employee. They found out he wasn't a member and have initiated a smear campaign against him. The most insidious thing is that they're blaming the democrats for it!

      Fact: The plumber unions secretly run the stonecutters guild, which in turn secretly runs the world.

      My toilet is overflowing, they're onto me...

  • by lottameez (816335) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:05PM (#25520923)
    Anybody? I'd think that the personal data of just about any news figure is combed over. This is certainly unfortunate but hardly surprising.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rtfa-troll (1340807)
      I'm surprised that we found out about it so quickly. Someone with real political power must really like Joe. (Mod: Inciteful / UnFunny / Informative / Scary ) (N.B. that's a c not an s)
  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:06PM (#25520929) Journal

    ....as JoeTheAnonymousCoward. Average Joe said over a cup of Joe today that he learnt about AC too late, but that maybe others could learn from his mistake.

  • 1984? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ieshan (409693) <ieshan@g3.14mail.com minus pi> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:07PM (#25520937) Homepage Journal

    Welcome to 1984, or welcome to a world (just like 2007, 2006, and 2005) where curious people with access to confidential information sometimes abuse it without meaning harm?

    I don't think there's any reason to assume malice here, I think stupidity is good enough. This kind of thing happens all the time when famous people check into hospitals and medical residents think it would be clever to pull their file.

    This seems more likely to be plain old stupidity than it does evil government influence.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by globaljustin (574257)

      plain old stupidity than it does evil government influence

      what's the difference? Was the government's handling of hurricane Katrina 'stupidity' or 'evil'? It's all bad.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:40PM (#25521213)

      One would do well to actually read 1984 (as opposed to just scream its title every time the Right does something you don't like).

      1984 was an comment by Orwell on the Communists. Orwell, himself a socilaist, learned to hate and fear the Communists after the Spanish Civil War.

      Big Brother was an obvious stand-in for "Uncle Joe" Stalin.

      In 1984 you will see:
      * The Ministry of Truth, the media manipulation of news and history (ala the recent Reugter's Photoshopping of pictures from the Israel/Lebanon war; Dan Rather's falsification of documents)
      * NewSpeak, the changing of language to make certain thoughts impossible (ala the politically correct language redefinition we experienced in the 70s/80s e.g. "differently abled" for "handicapped", in Sweden "husmor" replaced by "hemmafru" or their English cognates "housewife" with "stay-at-home-mom")
      * DoubleThink, the simultaneous holding of two or more mutually exclusive ideas (e.g. "homosexuality is something you are born with" and "homosexuality is a personal and private decision"; or "racism is always wrong" and "affirmative action is the right thing to do")
      * ThoughtCrime, making the mere ability of thinking something a crime. You see this all the time in Hate Crime legislation (what murder wasn't already a crime ... with a life penalty?) and University speech codes (University "Free Speech Zones" are a wonderful example of NewSpeak, DoubleThink, and ThoughtCrime wrapped into one)
      * also the breakdown of the family and sexual relationships (which has less obvious parallels but "PolPot & the child turns their parents in" (like Winston's neighbor) would be an example)
      * furthermore the mild anti-semitism, the hatred of Goldsteinism, today you see this all the time however this is mostly thinly veiled as an attack on "Zionism"

      We really shouldn't be surprised by the EU and The Left's fascination with this kind of behaviour. Orwell saw and predicted it nearly 50 years ago.

      • by electrictroy (912290) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:51PM (#25521801)

        There are some things you left out, which are tactics of not just the Left, but also the Right:

        - the never-ending war to constantly justify intrusion upon private citizen's lives

        - the changing of enemies (from Nazis to Communists to Saddam Hussein to Kosovo to Terrorists) to justify maintenance of a Corporate-Industrial Military

        - and also to always keep citizens afraid & dependent upon "daddy government" to protect them.

        Another tactic which Orwell did not think of is the "protect the children" argument which apparently justifies everything, even the taking-away of freedom of speech on the internet (kill Usenet discussion forums, censor nudist websites, censor Japanese anime/comics, block so-called racist books like Huckleberry Finn).

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:03PM (#25521873)

        Actually, 1984 can be seen as more of a broader commentary on totalitarianism, rather than any specific critique on socialism or communism.

        As for your parallels, it feels like you're missing some important points.

        Ministry of Truth - this was a wide-spread attempt by the government to control the publics knowledge. Thus it has nothing to do with individuals in the media screwing up (unless you're claiming all media is controlled by a single source)

        Newspeak and political correctness are not the same thing - one is the government controlling language and thought of the populace. The other is social norms changing to not offend people, particulalry when those changes don't actually change anything (except perhaps promote tolerance) at least for the most part.

        DoubleThink -is about individuals holding mutually exclusive ideas, not society. There's few people that believe homosexuality is both something you are born with and that it's a choice. Rasicm is always wrong vs affirmative action also then depends on whether or not you consider affirmative action reverse racism (and I think reasonable arguments could be made both ways).

        ThoughtCrime was about punishing thoughts contrary to the government. Punishing planning (as in you can show that it was serious planning) to commit a crime like violence or serious theft, is something else.

        There's certainly parallels that can be made, but you have to be reasonable - people claiming Western societies are like 1984 come off like chicken little.

      • by Xiroth (917768) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:10PM (#25521941)

        Oh, come on. While I agree that this example isn't nearly sufficient to be quoting 1984, the book didn't just apply to leftist governments - it clearly applies to authoritarian governments of any stripe. All of the examples you've cited there have counterparts in rightist authoritarian governments, and because of the nature of the current US administration, those examples are much more common and immediate, so it's really no wonder that people apply the book primarily to rightist actions currently. That it can happen on the left as well in no way means that it can't happen on the right. As they say, when the boot is laid in it's difficult to tell whether it's from the left or right foot.

        It's this kind of stupid blindness which sent me to the centre in the first place, while around me people switch from one extreme to another like a fricking metronome. Both sides seem to prefer shutting their eyes and screaming that all the world's problems are the opposition's fault, without daring to question their own policies for fear of being ostracised by their peers. With so much stupid being poured into the discourse from both sides of the aisle, it's no wonder that it's rare to see serious policy making as opposed to idealogical, realism-deficient bullshit.

        • by EdIII (1114411) * on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:10PM (#25522301)

          BWAHAHAHAHAH! Right On. When the boot is firmly up your ass to the ankle you don't stop and think, "Hey is that the left foot or the right foot?".

          "Both sides seem to prefer shutting their eyes and screaming that all the world's problems are the opposition's fault, without daring to question their own policies for fear of being ostracised by their peers"

          Exactly. With two sides yelling at each other nothing seems to get done at all with both sides blaming the other for their problems. However, it just seems that way sadly. Rights are disappearing faster and faster regardless of which political party holds the majority in any country. The US, Australia, and the UK seem to be in a frantic race to who can create a nightmarish totalitarian fascist regime first.

          The dangers in 1984 come from all directions in government, not just a single political party. The argument itself is designed to polarize and distract us from reality. Illusionists and Politicians have a lot in common when you think about it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        DoubleThink, the simultaneous holding of two or more mutually exclusive ideas (e.g. "homosexuality is something you are born with" and "homosexuality is a personal and private decision"; or "racism is always wrong" and "affirmative action is the right thing to do")

        Kind of like those people who simultaneously believe despite evidence that Obama is a Muslim whilst also complaining about the antics of his Christian minister?

        or perhaps

        ThoughtCrime, making the mere ability of thinking something a crime

        Which is why it is that you can get arrested these days for questioning the Gestapo, er, TSA, or for making a joke or otherwise doing something they don't like at an airport? Or how publicly effective critics of the current administration seem to end up on no-fly lists with curious frequency?

        The original posters' points are all valid, by t

      • by Sique (173459) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:45PM (#25522123) Homepage

        * also the breakdown of the family and sexual relationships (which has less obvious parallels but "PolPot & the child turns their parents in" (like Winston's neighbor) would be an example)

        Here you and me have read different books. 1984 describes a big governmental campagne against sexuality just for fun and for bonding, and the reduction of sexuality to a means to get children. An idea that tried to remove the bonding aspect of sexuality was tried in nationalsocialist Germany ("Lebensborn"), but I don't know of any similar communist experiment. Pol Pot's goal was not to govern sexuality, he was trying to remove parental influence and thus breaking the chain of tradition.

      • by speedtux (1307149) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:20PM (#25522351)

        We really shouldn't be surprised by the EU and The Left's fascination with this kind of behaviour. Orwell saw and predicted it nearly 50 years ago.

        And The Right is any better? Right wing TV and radio manipulates with the best of them, NewSpeak is enormously popular on The Right, conservative Christianity is a prime example of DoubleThink, The Right has been trying to enact ThoughtCrime legislation, and The Right's support of Israel is, shall we say, rather self-serving.

      • by yndrd1984 (730475) on Monday October 27, 2008 @12:30AM (#25523481)

        * NewSpeak, the changing of language to make certain thoughts impossible (ala the politically correct language redefinition we experienced in the 70s/80s e.g. "differently abled" for "handicapped", in Sweden "husmor" replaced by "hemmafru" or their English cognates "housewife" with "stay-at-home-mom")

        1984 was against government control over culture, not just cultural change in general. Changes in the way people express themselves is just part of life - "nigger" became "Negro", which became "colored", and then "black". Until the word "handicapped" is banned in some way, through the legal system, it has nothing to do with 1984.

        * The Ministry of Truth, the media manipulation of news and history (ala the recent Reugter's Photoshopping of pictures from the Israel/Lebanon war; Dan Rather's falsification of documents)

        Again, if it wasn't part of a government plan to control the population, then it isn't 1984 - "No Ministry, no Orwell" if you will. On the other hand, Bush's staged landing on an aircraft carrier is at least a lot closer to government controlling the news.

        * DoubleThink, the simultaneous holding of two or more mutually exclusive ideas (e.g. "homosexuality is something you are born with" and "homosexuality is a personal and private decision"; or "racism is always wrong" and "affirmative action is the right thing to do")

        As for the first part I doubt that any one person holds both views, but people with either view can come to the conclusion that it isn't the government business who they hook up with/date/marry. In this way they my become political allies, but there's no doublethink needed.

        As for the second part, many people dislike killing, but accept that it's sometimes necessary to protect innocent lives. In the same vein, there's no inherent contradiction in saying that racism is bad, but limited racism to counter racism that already exists is acceptable. (I should point out that I'm against affirmative action - I just don't see blatant cognitive dissonance on the other side.)

        * also the breakdown of the family and sexual relationships (which has less obvious parallels but "PolPot & the child turns their parents in" (like Winston's neighbor) would be an example)

        Again, where is the government enforcement of this?

        * ThoughtCrime, making the mere ability of thinking something a crime. You see this all the time in Hate Crime legislation (what murder wasn't already a crime ... with a life penalty?) and University speech codes (University "Free Speech Zones" are a wonderful example of NewSpeak, DoubleThink, and ThoughtCrime wrapped into one)

        You got me there. I can no more defend speech codes than I can defend the movement to put creationism in science classes. On the other hand, finding one parallel in a single context (just speech, just at universities) isn't enough to make a meaningful connection.

        * furthermore the mild anti-semitism, the hatred of Goldsteinism, today you see this all the time however this is mostly thinly veiled as an attack on "Zionism"

        I have no idea what you're referring to here.

      • by kisak (524062) on Monday October 27, 2008 @05:34AM (#25524593) Homepage Journal

        "Nineteeneightyfour" is a general commentary from Orwell on totalitarian states, having witness both Stalin and Hitler in the time before his death. (Orwell died in 1949 after finishing the book in 1948). It is Orwell's insight into how a "perfect" totalitarian state should be run. If you want Orwell's thought about Stalin's Soviet, you should read "Animal Farm", which discusses how communism went from "all animals are equal" too "some are more equal than others".

        When it comes to left and right, your examples are less than interesting.
        * Ministry of Truth: Faux news?
        * NewSpeak: Pro-life?
        * DoubleThink: "Affirmative action" is OK for Bush, McCain and other from influential parents?
        * ThoughtCrime: Either you are with us or you are against us. Don't dare to think otherwise.
        * Family and sexual relationships: The daughter of a governor who wants to bann "explicit" sex-ed gets pregnant.
        * Mild anti-semitism: To think that critizing Israels actions is the same as condemming jews.

        Anyway, Orwell wrote a very important book about how a government can control its citizens. For people in the US you should read it and compare with what Bush/Cheney has done the last 8 years to "protect you against terrorists". When Obama is president, compare the book to what Obama does with the powers he inherents from Bush.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fluffeh (1273756)
      Pffft. If you ask me, the files pulled that left traces were clearly the amateurs. If you ask me, the real question is how many times the files were pulled WITHOUT leaving any evidence. That's one that all you paranoid 1984 types missed here :P
  • by Prikolist (1260608) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:07PM (#25520943)

    Did they find Simon the Invisible Unicorn? (if you don't know the reference, watch the SNL spoof)

  • Sinking feeling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kramulous (977841) * on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:08PM (#25520949)
    So, do you think that there are three people, quite rightly, trembling in their boots at the moment? Shouldn't be too hard to find. And if it is shame on the organisations.
    • by peter303 (12292)
      Something like seven people in the State Department were caught looking up passports of people without permission. I lost track what happend to them, though I recall some lost their jobs.
  • by toupsie (88295) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:10PM (#25520975) Homepage
    This is what happens when you "speak truth to power" to a Republican. Oh wait, never mind...
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:14PM (#25521005) Homepage Journal

    That those who would have afforded the Bush administration total power would suddenly wince when that power is used against them.

  • by lamapper (1343009) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:16PM (#25521027) Homepage Journal
    It was interesting to note that the access was gained via another government agency, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency in Cleveland on 10/17/08, but not at all surprising.

    As interesting (and also not surprising at all) is the quote from the article,

    The LEADS system also can be used to check for warrants and criminal histories, but such checks would not be reflected on the records obtained by The Dispatch

    Why anyone would trust any online system with anything that could cost them a job, impact their credit, prevent them from receiving health insurance, prevent them from being considered from a job, put-your-privacy-concern-here, etc.... is beyond me.

    Sure it will be secure, sure it will....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:18PM (#25521037)

    The 34-year-old from the Toledo suburb of Holland is held out by McCain as an example of an American who would be harmed by Obama's tax proposals.

    I still don't understand why they keep bringing this guy up. He lied in his question to Obama about being in a position to buy his boss' company. His boss' company also doesn't make the level of income that would trigger a new tax under Obama's plan. Joe himself would get a tax cut under Obama's plan [usatoday.com]. Joe owes back taxes as it is. He's against Social Security. He's not a licensed plumber. Oh, and did I mention his first name isn't even Joe?

    "Joe the Plumber" is kind of a lie on a lie. Joe has a fantasy about himself as Mr. Up-And-Coming-Businessman (he's not) being held down by the Man (he's not) who will get screwed by Obama (he won't). And that self-deception has been magnified by McCain into yet another mass Republican Cognitive Dissonance(TM)-- a national party lie standing on the shoulders of one small man's lie.

    Good luck in November, guys.

    • by cmholm (69081) <cmholm@@@mauiholm...org> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:31PM (#25521139) Homepage Journal

      Your points regarding "Joe's" outright lies and inaccuracies born of his daydreams are to my experience very common among the self employed. They see the most successful among their business acquaintances, and see that as a realistic goal... if only were the local/state/government to stop regulating/taxing them at whatever level they're currently regulated/taxed.

      Basically, they're harboring the same sort of dreams that keep hundreds of thousands of young men banging away at amateur sports, even though the odds of making the cut are similar. It's this sort of dream that has the positive result of driving working people to succeed, but also the mixed results from overwhelming supporting the national GOP, whose policy goals use - but do not help - these grassroots supporters.

      • by Migraineman (632203) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:24PM (#25521593)
        Okay, I'll bite. I'm self-employed, and have been for almost a decade. I became this way because I got tired of busting my ass to put money in someone else's pocket. I now but my ass for my own benefit. I have no delusions of grandeur, but I do enjoy my freedom.

        The IRS levies a penalty against the self-employed - the Self Employment Tax. [irs.gov] I'll wager that my tax bracket is substantially higher than a "wage earner" with the same gross income. Why? Because I get to pay the extra 15.3% tax for being self-employed.
        • by naoursla (99850) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:51PM (#25521795) Homepage Journal

          You would be paying "self-employment tax" even if you were not self-employed. When employed you pay it as "Social Security/Medicare". The bookkeeping says that the employer pays half of the tax, but that is a technicality. If the employee paid it all then supply and demand would raise wages by the amount the employer pays. If the employer paid it all then supply/demand would lower wages by the amount the employee pays. Your tax rate is higher by around 7.5% but you should have a higher income than an employee doing the same job (by around 7.5%).

          From the IRS website: [irs.gov]

          Self-employment tax (SE tax) is a social security and Medicare tax primarily for individuals who work for themselves. It is similar to the social security and Medicare taxes withheld from the pay of most wage earners.

    • by CrAlt (3208) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:34PM (#25521161) Homepage Journal

      The fact that everyone knows everything about "Joe" just highlights the problem with big government. He dared to question a government official and now all this info about him magically comes out.

    • The point wasn't the question - however dishonest the man who asked it.

      It was the answer. And, by proxy, how those who dare to ask a question can expect to be treated by the press and, apparently, the government, under an Obama administration.

      Hope and change indeed.

    • by Ortega-Starfire (930563) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:41PM (#25521731) Journal

      >He lied in his question to Obama about being in a position to buy his boss' company.

      What you aren't aware of is that Joe had drawn up a contract to buy the company, and has recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy american coupleto do the plumbing for all 7 of his houses.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTRFbup0iv8 [youtube.com]

      1 minute in for details.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Toonol (1057698)
      Joe has a fantasy about himself as Mr. Up-And-Coming-Businessman (he's not)

      He's not? You're an ass. I can say that with just as much authority as anything you say, from your position of ignorance, about Joe Wurzelbacher. And Joe wouldn't get a tax cut. Obama wants to let the tax breaks Joe got under Bush expire.

      Are you mad that a "guy like Joe" even has aspirations? It is not that outlandish that somebody rise from the working class and build a $250k business. There's no guarantee, but it does
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I still don't understand why they keep bringing this guy up. He lied in his question to Obama about being in a position to buy his boss' company. His boss' company also doesn't make the level of income that would trigger a new tax under Obama's plan. Joe himself would get a tax cut under Obama's plan [usatoday.com]. Joe owes back taxes as it is. He's against Social Security. He's not a licensed plumber. Oh, and did I mention his first name isn't even Joe?

      You are using a classic strawman attack again Joe the

    • by nobodyman (90587) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:14PM (#25522721) Homepage

      What Obama supporters (of which I count myself one) don't seem to get is that this Joe guy is the issue. He's not. Tear him down as much as you want, it doesn't help your case one bit.

      The thing is, the only reason why the Right grabbed onto this was not Joe's question, but Obama's answer. That "Spread the wealth around" soundbite has been a goldmine republicans trying to invoke scary images of Karl Marx. And to be fair I think this was a major gaffe on Obama's part. Personally, I don't want to spread the wealth just for the sake of it. People that work hard to acquire their wealth under a fair system shouldn't be punished for being wealthy. But it needs to be a fair system.

      Obviously Obama misspoke - I don't think he intends to implement marxism. But that's the perception that some people had and that perception is what needs to be attacted by the Obama camp.

      This effort to vilify and discredit "Joe the Plumber" is disgraceful. The man asked a damn question. Obama should have done a better job answering it. Period.

  • 1984? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:30PM (#25521133) Journal
    Either 1984 has become so diffuse that all it means is badness+database, or the summary is badly confused. 1984 was all about a scenario where the state had ubiquitous control(with force of law) over information, which was used against everybody all the time. The state in 1984 was oppressive, and not one I would consider legitimate; but it ran "by the book" as it were. In this case, we have a much more prosaic example of certain individuals illegally accessing a celebrity's records, against policy, on an ad-hoc basis.

    Such situations are bad, and I hope the perps will be punished, and they are (yet another) reason to oppose the creation of Giant Exploitable Databases(tm); but they have very little to do with 1984. If you simply must have a dystopian cultural reference, try Brazil [imdb.com].
    • Re:1984? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:58PM (#25521383)

      Either 1984 has become so diffuse that all it means is badness+database, or the summary is badly confused. 1984 was all about a scenario where the state had ubiquitous control(with force of law) over information, which was used against everybody all the time.

      OK. Welcome to 1983.

  • by Kligat (1244968) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:31PM (#25521141)

    because Mr. Wurzelbacher has his name misspelled in the Social Security database, it would be assumed that he misspelled his name on his voter registration form. In Ohio, people that misspell their names or addresses, or have lost their homes and failed to update, or list a place that does not qualify as a "legal residence" in legalese like a dormitory, may be sent provisional ballots. These usually are not counted in the general election.

    The Supreme Court had ruled against Ohio GOP measures, but on technical grounds or something, and now the Attorney General of the Department of Justice is probing whether or not they should be sent those provisional ballots. It's sad that Mr. Wurzelbacher had his privacy invaded, but in reference to the Republican argument, he did have something to hide.

  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:36PM (#25521183) Homepage Journal
    My problem with total information on every citizen,and the ability to search without probable cause, is that it allows low level bureaucrats a huge amount of power. The airport screener, some making less that $10 an hour, are allowed to rummage my stuff, take my computers and other computers, throw away my water, all without charging me with any crime or claiming any penalty [schneier.com].

    Low level enlisted personel reported listening in on superiors private conversations through the warrantless wire tapping laws. Who knows how many other fucked up bureaucrats spend their days getting themselves off listening to conversations that citizens of the US should have the expectation to be private. And before we say if you don't have anything to hide, remember that Sarah Palin cried like a little girl when her account was hacked and wasted huge amounts of federal dollars looking for the person who did it. If you don't have anything to hide...

    In fact I wonder how much of this economic meltdown is caused by the realization that there are no more corporate secrets. Every communique can be intercepted by some disgruntled government worker and be sold to the highest bidder. How much of the meltdown is caused by the realization that Obama might become president, and therefore all the good old boys who were used to breakin' the law, might now be on the ass end of warrentless wire tap. Such abuse of power was OK when a drunk frat boy had the keys.

    And let's look a old Joe. The most that will happen to these government worker bees is that they get fired, on assumes, which is OK because this is not the worst that these government workers did to old Joe. Reportedly, someone typed in his name wrong. If the Republican party had their way, Old Joe would not have been able to vote because he drivers license would not have matched his voter registration card [politico.com] . This disenfranchise is reportedly due to a "clerical error". We are now giving low level bureaucrats the power to at least attempt to disenfranchise voters. Can you imagine what would happen if a bunch of voter registration cards came in from a republican area, and the clerk decided to misspell every few names, knowing that a law such as the republicans want to curb voter fraud might at least disenfranchise a few of them?

    We really need get back to the constructionist ideals of this country, where those that will trade freedom for security deserve neither.

  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:43PM (#25521251)

    Records show it was a "test account" assigned to the information technology section of the attorney general's office, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Thomas Hunter.

    Brindisi later said investigators have confirmed that Wurzelbacher's information was not accessed within the attorney general's office. She declined to provide details. The office's test accounts are shared with and used by other law enforcement-related agencies, she said.

    "IT Test account". Shared by a bunch of different offices. Looks like whoever did the search was smart enough to muddy the waters a bit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) *

      "IT Test account". Shared by a bunch of different offices. Looks like whoever did the search was smart enough to muddy the waters a bit.

      Indeed. And the fact that such a "test account" even exists should result in some seroius headrolling.

      That particular bunch of assholes is pretty cavalier with our personal info, that's for sure. Not that they're alone in that.

  • I wonder who... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:59PM (#25521395) Homepage

    It's reasonable to assume the purpose of these unauthorized accesses were to try and dig up dirt on Joe. Since Joe's comments have noticeably harmed Obama and/or helped McCain, it's reasonable to assume those doing so were Obama supporters or surrogates hoping to find evidence with which to smear Joe. Joe supports McCain, thus I don't expect any public outcry at all over this at all.

    Now if the tables were turned and it was an Obama supporter who was having his/her info illegally accessed...well, I don't have to describe the media orgy that would occur, do I?

    • Re:I wonder who... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:20PM (#25522353) Journal

      Since Joe's comments have noticeably harmed Obama and/or helped McCain, it's reasonable to assume those doing so were Obama supporters or surrogates hoping to find evidence with which to smear Joe.

      That's actually not a reasonable assumption.

      It's just as possible that McCain supporters or surrogates were looking for evidence with which Joe might be smeared, before McCain started talking about the guy in front of 56 million people.

      Campaigns go and dig up dirt (aka "vetting") on their own people.
      Maybe McCain learned from his complete failure to vet Sarah Palin.

      It's also just as likely that a bunch of curious idiot employees of the State did it.
      Until an investigation is done, your speculation is no better than mine.
      And at least I'm keeping an open mind.

  • This is serious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Jorsett (171560) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:28PM (#25521641)

    I was working on a project where I had to be given access to a state's law enforcement computer system, which was the access point for their Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the US National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and several other systems. I had to watch a videotape and read and sign a document promising all sorts of hell if I ever abused my access by, say, running someone without cause. One real-life example was a cop who would notice an attractive woman go by on the road and run her license plate to get her home address, where he would subsequently show up. I was glad to see that they had such strict policies. Anyone who uses their access privileges to stalk or attempt to dig up info on someone should be prosecuted.

  • by sheldon (2322) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:53PM (#25522179)

    I find that impressive, that they're keeping an audit trail of everybody who accesses a record in the DMV database.

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