Angry Federal Government OPM Employee

Data Breached Employees Sue for Lifelong Identity Protection

In 2015, millions of US Federal Employees of the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) had their identities hacked in a massive data breach many attribute to the Chinese government seeking leverage on them. A recent court hearing brings them one step closer to free lifelong identity protection.

It has taken three years but two unions that represent federal employees are one step closer to gaining identity protection for life for their members. The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) which represent employees affected by the two OPM data breaches that impacted over 20 million employees in 2015.

The first data breach released the personal identifiable information of all applications for security clearances and their families. The second exposed the personnel files of current and former employees. The unions representing the employees correctly argue that this information will not go out of date. The data breached records will continue to put the affected individuals at risk for the rest of their lives. After all, isn’t that how long your social security number, name and date of birth will remain unchanged?

While a final decision may take months or years, a panel of three judges heard arguments that the plaintiffs were entitled to protection under the 1974 Privacy Act. The plaintiffs claimed that the government acted negligently in not protecting their personal data. Furthermore, those employees who bought identity protection services incurred real costs because of the government’s negligence and the real risks the employees faced as a result. The government lawyers argued that even if negligence occurred, the solution sought by the employees will no address the problem. This is a position MyProfyle agrees with to some extent.

One problem of course is the nature of the protection the unions are seeking which appears to be credit file monitoring. As regular followers of MyProfyle know, we routinely explain how credit file monitoring is interesting but insufficient in protecting your monitoring your identity and offers virtually no proactive protection against identity theft. This is because it monitors a very small portion of your identity records – only about 7% of all identity transactions which pass through the credit file – and notifies you of changes only after the fraud has taken place – sometimes months later.

At MyProfyle, we believe this threat is further proof that everyone’s information is at risk from many different sources and that we are all exposed multiple times per year. The solution to identity fraud is not to try to lock your identity or seek unobtainable privacy but to control your identity – not just your credit – by putting yourself in the position know of, approve or decline activity conducted in your name. That’s MyProfyle Free For Life ™ Identity Protection.

References

Government Executive

Federal Times

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