Reporter views source on a public site. Criminal “hacking” investigation announced.

Jack Suntrup, St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

A Post-Dispatch reporter in October alerted the state to a data issue contained on a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website that left Social Security numbers of educators vulnerable to public disclosure.

After alerting the state, the newspaper didn’t publish its report until after the officials moved to protect the vulnerable information. The newspaper did not disclose any personal information.

The reporter simply did a “view source” on a public facing web page, saw that student social security numbers were embedded in the source. The reporter did the absolute right thing. They alerted officials, did not report on the issue until the vulnerability was fixed.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson:

“If somebody picks your lock on your house — for whatever reason, it’s not a good lock, it’s a cheap lock or whatever problem you might have — they do not have the right to go into your house and take anything that belongs to you,” Parson said.


Capt. John Hotz, spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said Monday the agency had finished its probe of the Post-Dispatch and had turned the case over the Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Locke Thompson.

This is chilling. So very misguided. Can’t imagine this going very far, but if it does, a terrible precedent will have been set.