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Legal Implications of Leaked Data


Recent stories in the media have caught the attention of anyone who releases private information on the internet. An IRS Hack for example, which occurred earlier this year, originally reported 114,000 private records were viewed by hackers, but new data shows the number of records accumulates to over 300,000 profiles that were hacked.

While these hacks were most likely done to gain private financial information, others, such as the recent Ashley Madison hack, are done more for vigilante reasons, and despite the illegality of the cyber attacks, certain information can be used by lawyers once it is released.

While one of these examples is a government agency, where we might expect security, the other is a private company which merely promises privacy, and this leaves consumers and people who have information stored on databases with one unanswered question: What can people see?

The answer to that question sometimes rests with the individual online organization, but there is some responsibility that rests with the user. Social Media platforms are a prime example of how people can leak sensitive information by simply posting a picture.

Take former Peoria Representative Aaron Schock for example. Questions arose about his finances after he redecorated his office in Downtown Abbey fashion. Questions became allegations when Schock began posting pictures of his world travels via his social media accounts. In this instance, no hacks were needed, Schock released the information himself, often boasting as he did it.

In the digital age, it’s important to remember that the old adage: Look before you leap (or post in this sense). Read the legal agreements before you just click “Accept”. Consider the photos, videos, and messages you send through the internet (even email), and remember that even though a web service says it deletes information, it may not.

If there’s an instance online where you can control what information you share, then make sure you think before you post. Read before you “Accept”. Always remember the consequences. While some data may be protected by another group, you can be the first line of defense when it comes to “privacy leaks”.