24 March 2008

Why National Firearm, Owner Registration Is Dangerous

This week finds more calls under Freedom of Information (FOI) Act requests for government to release the names of women and men who hold CCW licenses, this time in New York state. Of course, we know that New York is home of that pillar of truth, justice and the American way, Elliot Spitzer, who recently resigned as governor and exploited his previous position as state attorney general for questionable means.

There are great people in New York, don't get me wrong. But the Empire State and California are our figurative canaries in the mine shaft. Keep an eye on politics there, and you're sure to get a glimpse of what is coming.

But I digress.

When anti self defense organizations funded by deep-pocket foundations aren't pushing for ammunition micro-stamping, or more background checks, or to close non-existent loopholes, they and their willing accomplices in Congress often call for registration of every firearm and firearm owner in the U.S.

What's the big deal, they ask. Why do you object to a simple list, they ask innocently. Well, besides the blatantly obvious "registration leads to confiscation" concern that every American should share, there is also the following:

A government laptop computer containing sensitive medical information on 2,500 patients enrolled in a National Institutes of Health study was stolen in February, potentially exposing seven years' worth of clinical trial data, including names, medical diagnoses and details of the patients' heart scans. The information was not encrypted, in violation of the government's data-security policy.

The Veterans Administration (VA) learned on August 3, 2006 that a computer was missing from Unisys, a subcontractor that provides software support to the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia VA Medical Centers. The computer contained insurance claim data for patients treated in these two facilities or their community clinics. The Unisys system is used by the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia VA Medical Centers to help sort and track insurance claims that have been billed to insurance companies.

Student loan holders logging on to an Education Department Web site in August 2006 exposed their personal identities to others as a result of a glitch in a contractor's efforts to service the site. As first reported in the Boston Globe, as many as 21,000 borrowers in the Federal Direct Student Loan Program could have had their personal data, including Social Security numbers, birthdates and addresses, compromised in yet another government agency data breach.
This incident follows a string of publicized breaches governmentwide, affecting information systems in more than a dozen federal agencies.

In October 2007, the personal details of nearly 4,000 people – including commercial truck drivers who transport hazardous materials – were on two laptops stolen from a third-party contractor working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The government has recovered stolen computer equipment that contains sensitive personal information on millions of veterans and active-duty troops, Veterans' Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson announced Thursday. The announcement was good news for as many as 26.5 million people whose names, birth dates and, in about 17.5 million cases, Social Security numbers may have been on the laptop computer and external hard drive, raising the fear of identity theft.

The federal government is not doing enough to secure sensitive information, according to a 2007 report issued by the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA), a lobbying group of security vendors based in Arlington, Va.

From Maryland:
A Maryland Department of the Environment laptop computer stolen from an employee's car in August 2997 held personal information, including Social Security numbers, for 10,000 residents registered with one of four state boards.The car was recovered, but not the laptop, said Robert Ballinger, deputy director of communications for the department.

From Ohio:
The man responsible for the biggest data theft in the state of Ohio has received his official punishment - five days of lost vacation.

From 2007 -- The latest Internet Security Threat Report released today by Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) reveals that the current Internet threat environment is characterized by an increase in data theft, data leakage, and the creation of targeted, malicious code for the purpose of stealing confidential information that can be used for financial gain. Cyber criminals continue to refine their attack methods in an attempt to remain undetected and to create global, cooperative networks to support the ongoing growth of criminal activity.

Now . . . please explain to me once more why U.S. citizens should have no fear over a simple registration scheme cataloging their firearms and their personal information?

Case closed.

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