Minnesota State Employee Charged Over Data Breach

John A. Hunt, 48, of Woodbury, Minn., has been charged with inappropriately accessing thousands of driver’s license records over a four-year period.

“The former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee accused of looking up thousands of driver’s license records had access to the state’s driver and motor vehicle databases to perform background checks on potential job applicants, authorities announced Thursday as part of a criminal investigation,” writes Minnesota Public Radio’s Elizabeth Dunbar.

“He was charged in Ramsey County District Court with six counts, including misconduct of a public employee, unauthorized computer access, encrypting data to conceal a crime and unlawful use of private data,” write The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Eric Roper and David Chanen. “All of them are gross misdemeanors or misdemeanors.”

“Hunt is accused of accessing driver’s license records of more than 5,000 people over 19,000 times between 2008 and 2012,” writes Northland’s NewsCenter’s Krista Burns. “A majority of the victims were females who hold positions as Federal and State political officials, members of the Legislature, appellate and district court judges, county and city attorneys, state patrol and city police officers, female news reporters, current and past female employees and family members from the DNR.”

“Four of those victims this week filed a lawsuit for at least $10 million in damages against Hunt and several other state employees,” writes Threatpost’s Anne Saita. “They said the data breaches caused severe emotional stress and physical harm and were the result of ‘lax policies and lax enforcement’ that allowed an unsupervised, unmonitored Hunt to continually access records for years.”

“Hunt has no prior criminal record in Minnesota,” The Austin Daily Herald reports. “His first court appearance is scheduled for March 5.”

Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years and an eSecurity Planet contributor since 2009.

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