Federal government published Social Security numbers of 1,900 White House visitors
The federal government inadvertently published the Social Security numbers of 1,900 people who visited the White House in December 2020, as part of the final report published by the Jan. 6 House select committee late last year, the Government Publishing Office's (GPO) inspector general acknowledged in a report Friday.
In February 2022, the White House directed the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to provide the select committee with White House visitor logs from December 2020 to January 2021, agreeing that birthdates and Social Security numbers would be removed, the GPO inspector general's report said.
NARA provided the visitor logs to the committee, and in December 2022, the select committee sent its final report and supporting materials to GPO for publishing through GovInfo, as the select committee was being disbanded before the new Congress. The committee's final report had concluded that "the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed."
On Jan. 4 of 2023, a news outlet notified GPO that a supporting document in the report — the White House visitor logs — included the Social Security numbers of nearly 2,000 visitors, the GPO inspector general said. The sensitive information was removed from the web.
Visitors to the White House are required to submit their Social Security numbers and birth dates to be screened by Secret Service in order to gain entry. In December 2020, many of the visitors who came to the White House were attending holiday parties hosted by Trump.
The GPO inspector general said the "perfect storm" of several factors led to the disclosure of sensitive information of hundreds of White House visitors. The IG noted that the select committee had changed its request within two weeks of the publication deadline, which put a strain on the publishing office.
And the "sheer volume of supporting materials" varied, so much so that the publishing office "does not always have an automated process to ingest, process, and publish to GovInfo," the inspector general's report said. It also found that the transition from the 117th to 118th Congress "caused confusion" and left the publishing office "without active committee oversight" in the period immediately after the release of the "personally identifiable" and sensitive information.
The GPO inspector general report comes as Congress is dealing with another data breach. The hacking of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority data system has triggered at least three investigations and a federal civil lawsuit against the District of Columbia government, CBS News has learned. At least 17 current or former members of Congress had personal information exposed in the hack, according to a top Democrat investigating the matter.
— Scott MacFarlane and Nicholas Kurtz contributed to this report
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