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Government

In WI, Assembly data stolen from aide's car

Legislature didn't have policy against taking documents out of office, members and aides must alert credit bureaus.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor on

In Wisconsin, papers were stolen from a legislative staff member's car. Ordinarily no big deal but these had the Social Security numbers for a third of Assembly members and 74 of their aides, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Among those affected were Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) and Rep. Marlin Schneider (D-Wisconsin Rapids), who for decades has been the Legislature's chief advocate for privacy and the protection of personal records.

Huebsch, who took over as speaker in January, said Friday that he didn't know the Legislature lacked a policy about taking personal information out of state offices. "The unfortunate situation is that this is going to come to light because there was a high-profile theft," he said.

The 26-year-old aide took an Assembly personnel report out of her office, planning to work on it at her apartment that night. On her way home, she stopped at a gym and her locker was among those broken into. The thief stole her keys, then broke into her car and took her purse, credit cards, cell phone and other items, including the report, according to Madison police.

Huebsch said government - not private contractors - is the problem when it comes to keeping information secure.

"The only leaking sieve of information is government, and we need to step up and crack down on that," Huebsch said.

The theft of records with the Social Security numbers and other personal information shows that data-protection practices in state government "stink," said Sen. Ted Kanavas.

"I think it's about time government takes data security seriously," said Kanavas, who asked for a formal audit on data security systems in all three branches of state government. "It's not 1975 anymore."

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