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There’s a lot going on here, and I’m no fan of CBP but this is pretty much a low-grade by the book contractor failure here. They receive training on all of these things, and have gone through a lengthy award and due diligence process and then all it takes is one person thinking “hey I think I’ll take a sample dataset back to my Dev laptop to test things.” Could be a newbie or a senior - who knows, but it’s happened before.

Go after CBP for constitutionality of collection, for working outside of borders where they are legally not allowed to work, etc, but in this case I’d say let’s not blow things too out of proportion.

Remember when OMB lost hundreds of thousands of detailed compromising personal background check reports with all the identifying information including biometrics? This sounds like some port of entry data you could get with a camera in public.

Further: they are not absolving themselves. They are probably working their asses off right now to make sure this never happens again but somebody is going to pay for credit protection and insurance, and it should be the contractor that ignored their contract and all sensible security policy. So, there is is in the press release.

Lastly: I don’t think GDPR fixes this. Government (especially intel community and law enforcement) keeps the data as long as their record schedules allow.

Thankfully, laws about breaches required them to reveal this to us within a certain time. Privacy Officers have really hard jobs. To do them well is hard and thankless. Glad this one stuck to the law.






> There’s a lot going on here, and I’m no fan of CBP but this is pretty much a low-grade by the book contractor failure here.

Maybe government agencies shouldn't be allowed to contract out. And if they are, then they should be held ultimately responsible for their choice of contractors.


Non-military, executive branch headcount has remained relatively consistent in absolute numbers since the 1950s, believe it or not, at ~2 million, even though the budget has expanded enormously. Sources:

Historical table: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-docu...

A concurrence in my assessment: https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/02/federal-government-gr... ("So, since 1960, federal spending, adjusted for inflation, has quintupled and federal undertakings have multiplied like dandelions, but the federal civilian workforce has expanded only negligibly, to approximately what it was when Dwight Eisenhower was elected in 1952." Note I'm not necessarily agreeing with the sentiments expressed elsewhere in that article.)

AFAIU for over half a century there's been something of a gentlemen's agreement in Congress among Democrats and Republicans that keeps the official headcount fixed while expanding government through contractors--the closest thing to a wide-spread "conspiracy" (tongue-in-cheek) I've ever seen. Of course, lobbyists and the contracting industry play a huge part in maintaining the system, but IMO that overlays the long-term political equilibrium reached in Congress.

One reason I finger Congress, and not lobbyists, as the principal supporters of the system is that Democrats would much rather have full-time federal employees, so they're clearly compromising. It's hard to say what Republicans want, but to many Republicans hiring contractors 1) squares limited government with electoral pressures to "do stuff" at the federal level, and 2) superficially provides better price signaling through competitive bidding (though if we're honest that's... complicated). Note how the numbers remain conspicuously stable across major domestic and international political shifts. It's fascinating.

State and local government workforces have ballooned, and a lot of federal expenditures are administered via state-based programs. But that doesn't conflict with the "conspiracy" noted above, it's arguably just a way for the Democrats and Republicans to jockey around it.




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