Regulation

CNN: Social Security numbers, other info revealed by government transparency site error

Dozens of Social Security numbers were made public by a federal government transparency website during a systems upgrade, CNN reported Monday.

When the website foiaonline.gov, a clearinghouse for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to many federal agencies, was upgraded from its 2.0 version to its 3.0 version in July, a feature that masked certain information stopped working.

CNN reported that because of the design error, it found at least 80 full or partial Social Security numbers that had been published, as well as other sensitive information that had been made public, such as dates of birth and immigrant identification numbers.

When CNN alerted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which maintains the website, to the issue, the agency attempted to re-mask sensitive information, according to the report.

The EPA addressed what it had the ability to handle, and it alerted other agencies' FOIA administrators on Thursday to check whether they wanted certain information in their control to be public.

"The EPA is aware and working with partner agencies to remediate an issue with the FOIAonline 3.0 system," EPA spokesman John Konkus told CNN. "The issue affects a limited number of cases and inadvertently displays descriptive information that may, in some instances, include Social Security Numbers. EPA will follow the Agency's Breach procedures to evaluate the situation further and take the appropriate mitigation measures."

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