Texas mistakenly exposes personal data of 3.5 million

Fort Worth Star-TelegramApril 11, 2011 

AUSTIN — The records of about 3.5 million people, including Social Security numbers, were erroneously placed on a public computer server at the Texas Comptroller's Office and remained there for about a year until officials discovered the mistake less than two weeks ago, the agency acknowledged Monday.

"I deeply regret the exposure of the personal information that occurred and am angry that it happened," said Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, the state's chief financial officer. "I want to reassure people that the information was sealed off from any public access immediately after the mistake was discovered and was then moved to a secure location.

"We take information security very seriously, and this type of exposure will not happen again," Combs said. She said there was no indication that the personal information was misused.

Allen Spelce, the department's chief communications officer, said it appeared to be the largest-ever unauthorized release of public information by a state agency. The officials responsible for the mistake were dismissed this morning, Spelce said. He declined to specify the number of those involved.

The records included the names and mailing addresses of individuals, as well as Social Security numbers, said officials. To varying degrees, the material released personal information such as dates of birth or driver's license numbers.

The information was in data transferred by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS).

Read more of this story at Star-Telegram.com

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