Remember that fascinating little news story back in May about personal data theft at the Department of Mismanaging Veterans Affairs? Recall how the theft occurred because some yokel at the VA took home all our personal information on some CDs and a laptop and left them in his house where burglars broke in and took them?
In the days after the story was reported--two weeks after the actual burglary, because the VA didn't want anyone to know while they "investigated"--we were all instructed to log in to a personnel website, where we would be told if our information was, in fact, among that stolen by the thieves. I dutifully logged in and learned that I was not among the victims. I was happy about that, but still find the situation deeply disturbing especially considering the government plans to require ALL of us to get ID cards with personal information on them to be stored in a giant government database somewhere, probably to be managed by people even less knowledgeable about proper treatment of sensitive materials than VA employee who brought all our info home on his laptop. (And what the hell was he doing with that anyway?)
Then today--let's see, it's only six weeks after the theft--I got an email telling me that my information had been stolen. This is not a direct quote, but I believe I said something like this:
WHAT THE FUCK, HUH? I MEAN, WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?!!
Ahem. Today, the VA finally got around to offering free credit monitoring to the people it screwed. Except, wait! No, really, I mean, wait. It'll still be another two months before they decide how to set that up, much less how to inform us that they've done so (I'll already be deployed by the time they manage to get around to that). Should be I happy that they're trying, or still fuming that they're so fucking incompetent? I can't decide. I don't want to be both. I think I'll go with furious, because it's easier to maintain.
It's not just the incompetence on display. There's the delay in telling us. There's the incapacity of the government to get around to offering us some sort of protection until fully four months after the theft. There's the fact that Jim Nicholson is still the VA Secretary (not that I should be surprised; Don Rumsfeld is still the Defense Secretary and he's got Abu Ghraib and Haditha on his hands). There's the fact that this sort of thing will no doubt continue unabated as the government continues to insist on getting its hands on more and more of our personal information without taking any real measures to protect it. It's a wonderful future we're building, isn't it?