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Journalists' vehicle data improperly accessed

Posted by: Jane Friedmann under Civil liberties, Public records Updated: January 21, 2013 - 9:39 AM

Updated 2:11 p.m.

By Eric Roper

It's now fairly clear that journalists comprised several of the victims in Tuesday's data breach involving thousands of drivers license records.

The Department of Natural Resources is alerting 5,000 people that their data was innappropriately accessed by an employee who is now no longer with the agency. Star Tribune political reporter Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, higher education reporter Jenna Ross and whistleblower reporter Jane Friedmann were among those who received a data breach letter.

The letter, which came from the Department of Natural Resources, discloses the breach but offers little details about motives or the employee's name. The agency said Wednesday it could not release the complaint against the employee until there is a "final disposition" in the case (explanation here at Subd. 2 (b)), which likely means the employee is challenging the action.

Other journalists whose data was breached include Associated Press political reporter Brian Bakst, freelance writer Laura Billings (according to her husband), Pioneer Press reporter Emily Gurnon and Fox 9 reporter Dawn Mitchell.

KARE-11 reporter Jana Shortal and MSP Mag senior editor Dara Grumdahl said Friday afternoon that they also received a data breach letter.

The state's drivers license database is protected by state and federal law against access without a legal purpose.

Staff writer Rachel E. Stassen-Berger contributed to this report. 

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