A new report released by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) has revealed that nearly 2,000 visitors to the White House in December 2020 had their social security numbers “inadvertently” leaked by the federal government when records pertaining to the Jan. 6 Committee were published in late 2022.
After the Biden Administration directed the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to provide the Jan. 6 Committee with White House visitor logs from the waning days of the Trump presidency, namely from December 2020 to January 2021, NARA complied, according to the GPO report. The Select Committee agreed to accept the records provided by NARA with “birthdates and social security numbers removed.”
The watchdog for the Government Publishing Office said 1,900 Social Security numbers were published in error as part of the Jan. 6 House select committee’s final report. https://t.co/B3Gt0hpbGO
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 31, 2023
Before being disbanded ahead of the new Congress in December 2022, the Select Committee sent its final report and supporting materials to GPO for online publication. On Jan. 4, 2023, it was discovered by a public news outlet that the information provided to GPO from the Select Committee contained the social security numbers of almost 2,000 visitors to the White House in December 2020. Upon learning of the error, GPO removed the revealing document and subsequently replaced it with a redacted version supplied by the NARA, the report continued.
The GPO blamed the “inadvertent” error on a “perfect storm” of rushed procedures, confusion, altering publication requests, strained resources within the GPO, and the sheer volume of supporting materials provided by the Select Committee.
“Due to the involvement of multiple governmental agencies from different branches of government, it is not clear which body is responsible for the breach response. GPO has presented congressional oversight with a breach response plan and is waiting for their approval to act,” the report stated. (RELATED: Data Breach Potentially Exposed Private Info Of Lawmakers And Staff, Official Says)
Among the recommendations for improved oversight the GPO has suggested developing a process to more “overtly notify customers to review their information” prior to publication, require written confirmation from customers that sensitive information has been “sanitized” before it has been submitted for publication, and congressional oversight that would allow the GPO to take down published material prior to customer approval, the report concluded.