Friday, February 13, 2015

Jeb Bush's e-mail, continued

Earlier this week, Jeb Bush made available online hundreds of thousands of emails he sent and received during his tenure as Florida's governor. As I noted yesterday, the emails Bush's organization placed online contained Social Security numbers, home addresses and phone numbers, and a wealth of other personal information about private citizens. In the wake of the controversy, the Bush camp pledged to review and redact the e-mails, which are identical to the unredacted e-mails held and made accessible to researchers by the Florida State Archives.

Earlier today, Fortune reported that the e-mails approximately 13,000 Social Security numbers and that roughly 12,500 of these numbers were housed within a spreadsheet embedded within a PowerPoint presentation attached to a message that Governor Bush and approximately 50 other people received in October 2003. The other 500 are scattered throughout the correspondence. The Bush team has been able to use software to identify and redact approximately 400 of them, but as of earlier today approximately 100 were still available online because they don’t conform to the usual XXX-XX-XXXX pattern and thus can’t be easily found.
Fortune also reported that a spokesperson for the Florida Department of State, of which the Florida State Archives is part, stated that: “the Department of State is currently reviewing our process for redacting confidential information from documents given to the State Archives.” Ouch.

To add insult to injury, ComputerWorld notes that the Microsoft Personal Storage Table (PST) versions of the Bush e-mails that the Florida State Archives disclosed to researchers and that were, for a short time, made available for downloading on the Bush e-mail site contain a number of old viruses and Trojan Horse applications. Most of them pose little threat to anyone who has a newer computer and up-to-date anti-virus software, but they might cause problems for people who have older machines or don't have anti-virus software installed.

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