US Passport Agency contractors harvested Americans' data for identity theft

Chloe McClendon worked for a State Department contractor, and conspired with two others to steal the identities of passport applicants by photographing their applications while processing them.

The State Department has dealt with the problem by banning phones and cameras in passport processing centers.

They have not ended the practice of collecting titanic amounts of information on Americans, indefinitely retaining it, and letting contractors handle it.

Rob Arnold, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) Local 1998 that represents Passport Agency workers nationwide, said they've reached an agreement with management to begin bargaining the proposed ban on electronic devices soon. They are apparently exempting government-issued BlackBerry phones, though those have cameras too.

One issue, Arnold told the Loop on Friday, is that the agency has cut costs in recent years by employing contractors to do jobs that used to be government posts, and giving them increasingly more responsibility.

"The fact that they actually committed identity theft, victimizing the people applying for passports, may be an unprecedented low in the Agency's history," Arnold said. "The few and rare malfeasance cases over the years have involved bribes for passports, not harming those applying for passports."

For years, a Passport Agency contractor copied passport applicants' data to create fake identities [Colby Itkowitz/Washington Post]

(via /.)