From the Washington Post:
Government workers repeatedly snooped without authorization inside the electronic passport records of entertainers, athletes and other high‐profile Americans, a State Department audit has found. One celebrity’s records were breached 356 times by more than six dozen people.
The Inspector General compiled a list of popular and interesting people, then examined the number of accesses to their files.
As the investigation continues down the chain — and it should — it is very likely to find that ordinary citizens’ data was accessed too — not out of curiosity, but for the purposes of committing identity theft. More than 20,000 people in the State Department and Department of Homeland Security had access to the electronic system that maintained the passport records. There’s a bad seed or two in any group that size.
The IG has issued numerous recommendations for improvement, likely things that should have been implemented long ago. But know one thing: Security risks like this are an inseparable product of government policies that collect personal information in databases and then make it widely accessible. Proponents of national ID systems like REAL ID and the nationwide government background check system envisioned by E‐Verify may dream about them being secure, but it’s just a dream.
More on passport snooping here and here.