Police Recover EC’s Stolen Laptop, Finds Data Intact

The Nashville-Davidson County Metropolitan Police Department, which retrieved a hard drive from the missing Election Commission notebook computer, said that the theft put the privacy of Nashville voters at high risk.

A preliminary inspection of the hard disk by computer experts of the department reveal that it had the non-tempered data on names and Social Security numbers of over 335,000 voters of Davidson County, according to the police.

On January 17, 2008, 45-year-old Robert Osbourne, suspected for the theft, capitulated to the police and admitted moving laptops out of the office of the commission. Osbourne led police officials to a company called The Muse on 4th Avenue South where he confessed having sold the notebooks after collecting them before Christmas. WKRN reported this on January 19, 2008.

The stolen laptop holding Social Security numbers of voters in the Nashville, Tennessee area is likely to cost the local officials around US $1 Million, as they work to protect affected voters' identity from theft.

Metro Police Sgt. Tony Blackburn said that it didn't seem that anyone had knowledge regarding the hard drive, had accessed the data, or cashed in from the information. WKRN published this.

Also, since the enactment of laws against breach of state data some years back, the case of the missing laptop with unencrypted data could cause the commission or similarly any organization storing sensitive information a major security problem.

Director of policy and advocacy, Paul Stephens, with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, said that it is an utterly incorrect practice of keeping sensitive data about people's Social Security numbers on a laptop computer or any other removable device without encryption. PCWorld reported this on January 19, 2008. The Clearinghouse is a privacy advocacy organization that has traced the breach of 217 Million records in the US during 2005-07.

According to spokeswoman Janel Lacy on behalf of Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, the Metropolitan Government of the IT services department of Nashville and Davidson County is currently coordinating with the Election Commission to bring about changes that would safeguard residents from such incidents in future and it already has 19 recommendations, reported PCWorld.

Related article: Police Arrests Six Suspects Associated With TJX Credit Scam

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