Too much transparency: Jeb Bush releases Emails, accidentally reveals personal information

Jeb Bush is not having a good tech-related week.  Yesterday, news broke that his newly hired Tech Officer had made a variety of offensive tweets and was forced to resign. At around the same time, news also broke that Bush had inadvertently released sensitive information when he disclosed his Emails.

Here’s the background: During his time as Governor of Florida, Bush was a prolific Email user, apparently spending 30 hours a week sending and answering Email.  As such, he posted over 300,000 of his Emails on the website, saying he was doing so in the name of transparency:

Good call by Bush, but there was a problem: the Emails contained highly sensitive data.  This included:

  • Names, addresses, contact information, social security numbers and medical problems.
  • Termination of government employees.
  • Personal stories about a variety of personal struggles.

This is actually a pretty big deal…Bush’s campaign opened constituents up to potential identity theft. Identity theft is a serious problem in this country, one that affects 15 million Americans, and the Bush campaign just exposed Florida residents to it.  In a statement, Bush campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said that the state of Florida dropped the ball, not the Bush campaign:

“Last year, we requested the State specifically comply with Florida statute regarding exemptions and redactions. We have redacted personal identifying information from two emails brought to our attention. We are doing an electronic search for any additional emails that may fall into this category and will do the same.”

The campaign has since said that it is in the process of redacting personal information.

It was a good effort by the former Governor, and he and his team deserve credit, because this is a highly transparent action.  However, it’s not the thought that really counts, but the action, and the Bush team dropped the ball here.  If you are going to release data, you have an obligation to first browse said data for sensitive information, and the Bush team dropped the ball here.

It’s their second tech-related blooper this week.

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