Identity theft is a huge concern these days. People are always being warned to be very careful of personal information, to only entrust it to those bodies that have a proven need to have it.
But what happens when you are required to provide personal information such as your Social Security number, birth date, address, and medical information to an agency that doesn’t take precautions to protect that information? Well, you can sue them.
Unless, of course, it’s the government of Massachusetts itself.
It turns out that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, when they need to dispose of papers that contain such sensitive information, just dumps it out on the curb — unshredded and unguarded — and lets it sit there for the contractor to come along and collect it for disposal. The Boston Herald investigated one RMV branch and saw buckets of papers sit in an unlocked bin for hours on end.
I strongly suspect that that policy will be changing soon (even if it means someone goes out and buys a couple of padlocks), but it’s a damned shame that it takes a Boston Herald investigation to put an end to this practice.
A damned shame, but no great surprise. This is, after all, Massachusetts we’re talking about here.