So far, smart. Good common sense, anyway.
Governors Don't Like Their Cell Phone Numbers Being SoldOne little problem. At least two of the BlackBerry devices sold hadn't had their memories erased.
Understatement: Not a British MonopolyAlthough we, here in the American colonies, have proven ourselves more boisterous and quite lacking in proper British reserve, we do seem to have retained one of those qualities which have set mother England apart: A knack for understatement.
Case in point, this quote from an article recounting reactions to the inadvertent sale of campaign secrets. Emphasis mine:
"The second device contained 300 'contacts,' including former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
"Gilmore, when reached on the cell phone, wasn't happy to learn that his information had been sold.
" 'It makes me uncomfortable. ... It's a matter of principle. I gave the information to McCain headquarters, and to have it sold is bothersome,' he told the TV station.
"The station called a McCain-Palin campaign worker, who said, 'It was an unfortunate staff error and procedures are being put in place to ensure all information is secure.'..."
(FOXNews (December 15, 2008))
Selling Confidential Information, By Accident: What's the Matter With People These Days?!Being born in the Truman administration, I could, with very little effort, become a somewhat underage irascible old coot. Two things keep me from slipping too far in that direction:
- Distaste for criticisms that begin with "Back in my day..."
- A pretty good memory
It's been like that for fifty years, and I don't see all that much improvement: or decay.
Unwiped BlackBerries, Lost Laptops: Wake Up, America, There's a War onThis could be early-onset old cootishness, but I sometimes feel that too many Americans have gotten sloppy. Maybe because several decades went by with chronic dangers, but no obvious acute threats to America, the idea that confidential data needs to be kept confidential lapsed.
These campaign BlackBerrys are, I hope, a trivial problem. I sympathize with former Virginia Governor Gilmore, but the odds are pretty good that he's not going to get hurt. On the other hand, vice presidential candidate Palin's church did catch fire: and law enforcement is treating it as possible arson.
But the bargain-basement BlackBerrys probably won't even be a nine-day wonder.
On the other hand, there does seem to be a pattern of sloppy handling of sensitive information and data systems: from the Pentagon network getting hacked to missing laptops. That could be very serious.
About the last thing I want to see is some ham-handed "government crackdown" on people who mislay laptops or accidentally infect the American defense network.
At this point, people who foul up seem willing to tell their superiors when there's a problem. And that makes it possible to define the issue and start dealing with it.
If mislaying a laptop, or putting an infected screen saver on your computer, might mean the end of a career or time in prison, I doubt that people would be as willing to accept responsibility.
On the other hand, I think that people who deal with sensitive data should be taught some situational awareness. And, a deep-seated understanding of just how important secrets can be.
Finally, getting people to be sensible about secure data isn't just an American issue, as the "related posts" shows.
- "Worm Spreading Fast in Pentagon Computers: (not) in the News"
(November 21, 2008)
- "Pentagon Hacked, Removable Media Banned: Cyberattack Hits American Military"
(November 20, 2008)
- "International Monetary Fund Allegedly Hacked - And It's Not News"
(November 14, 2008)
- "White House Computers Hacked, Probably by China: News That's Not Fit to Print?"
(November 9, 2008)
- "World Bank Under Cyberattack? Surprise!"
(November 2, 2008)
- "World Bank Group Network Hacked; Chinese IPs Used: Just What We Need"
(October 10, 2008)
- "Pilot's Laptop Missing: Yes, It's a Big Deal"
(April 27, 2008)
- "Unintended Consequences: The Boeing 787 Dreamliner"
(January 9, 2008)
- ATF Joins Church Arson Investigation"
Market Watch (December 15, 2008)
- "McCain Team Sells Info-Rich BlackBerrys to TV Station
FOXNews (December 15, 2008)
- "Palin's burned-out church holds services elsewhere"
Associated Press (December 14, 2008)
- "FOX 5 Buys Second Loaded BlackBerry from McCain Campaign"
my FOX Washington, D.C. (December 12, 2008)
- "McCain Campaign Sells Info-Loaded Blackberry to FOX 5 Reporter"
my FOX Washington, D.C. (December 12, 2008)