Last month, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee was fired after he allegedly looked up thousands of people's driver's license records without a job-related reason. About 5,000 people received letters telling them their data had been inappropriately accessed.
We asked members of MPR's Public Insight Network how they would react if they received such a letter. We also asked them how the state should prevent such incidents or respond to them when they happen. Here are some of their responses.
"I have to show my driver's license when I go to the bar or when I use my credit card - who knows if any of those folks have a photographic memory."
— Maggie Schultz, St. Paul
"My concern is in appropriate access. I am not overly concerned so long as reasonable measures are being taken to follow best practices for securing data that any Financial or Medical firm would be required to follow in the private sector. Citizen funded government agencies should raise the bar for achieving and surpassing these standards."
— Rob Plahn, Brooklyn Park
"My data is out there in many different places, and I can't be too protective of it -- it's almost impossible it seems to completely safeguard it, so unless there's an imminent concern that the data is going to be used against me, then I don't get overly concerned even if my data was among those that were accessed."
— Mark Donohue, Maple Grove
• Data privacy breach incites outrage, but also indifference
• Auditor: Driver's license database oversight is lax
• Charges filed in DNR data breach
• Lawsuit filed against DNR employee over data breach
"People are going to be innately curious. I don't care if someone looks up my information, it's what they do with it that matters."
— Zhenya Stone, Brooklyn Park
"I accept that the information must be gathered for the lawful use of the police and other authorized agencies, and I believe that the state of Minnesota INTENDS to keep the records confidential and hire only conscientious, trustworthy employees.... however, obviously the system needs to be improved and security strengthened."
— Marguerite Krause, St. Louis Park
"Prevention: you likely can't do much. Password protection only goes so far. Especially if the person who is snooping already has access to the information. Is there a way to detect and document who is accessing information and what information is being accessed? If a person knew this was being done, s/he might be more hesitant about misbehavior."
— Elizabeth Tobias, Minneapolis
"I am required to give the state information and I give it in good faith. The state is responsible for the handling and protection of my information and is liable."
— Blaine McCutchan, Golden Valley
"A person could crawl under a rock and live there, but I happen to enjoy social media and probably will not change my ways anytime soon. So if that's what society is today, then to live "normally" you have to put up with people invading your privacy."
— Timothy Sundquist, Duluth
"I am deeply concerned about the growing public sector influence in our lives and cannot subscribe to a philosophy that says government always knows — and therefore, will always do — that which is in my best interest when the contrary is demonstrated almost daily. The people are still in charge in the US, even if government continues to intrude."
— Linda Meehan, St. Louis Park
"I can create a concerning scenario in my mind, but frankly I'm not really worried about it, because most of the information can be gained by doing a minimal internet search. Of course, any sensitive information should be shielded."
— Joel Stegner, Edina