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Breaking News Alert This Week In Lawfare Land: 'Deadly Force'

In A Hyper-Digital World, Leaks Like Kristi Noem’s Social Security Number Are An Everyday Thing

Kristi Noem in front of two American flags
Image CreditNBC News/YouTube

Regardless of the assurances we’re given by any number of people, our information simply is not as secure as we’d like to think.


Nothing is private anymore. It might sound cliche, but considering that all of our information and documentation is digitized and stored on computerized systems that other people are paid to manage, it doesn’t matter how hard you try to hide something or how confidently somebody told you your data or personal information is secure, it simply isn’t. 

This past weekend, South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem experienced this firsthand as her Social Security Number (SSN), along with those belonging to her three children, her son-in-law, and her husband, were potentially leaked after recording this information on White House visitor logs that were later used as “exhibits during the January 6th committee hearing” and “illegally disseminated to the public” when they were “published online via the U.S. Government Publishing Office’s website.” 

According to the letter the Noems’ attorney sent to the people believed to be responsible for the leak, the sensitive information was “publicly available for days before being removed from the website,” which The Washington Post “prominently reported.”

This isn’t to make a case for Noem or her politics (although there is a nonzero chance that her politics did have a role in the delayed retraction of her family’s SSNs and that this was a collaboration between the corporate media and government in an elaborate form of ritual humiliation). Rather it is to highlight the utter incompetence of the people who are charged with protecting our sensitive information. They and the systems they are responsible for managing are incapable of protecting us.

Annually, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) steals anywhere from $180 billion to $600 billion in intellectual property from the United States. The CCP isn’t sending physical marauder gangs around Silicon Valley to steal hard drives from nerds; party members are stealing information through high-tech espionage. And considering the sheer amount of North American-based corporations that believe they have had their intellectual property stolen by the CCP, why should we believe that the trillions of dollars in privately held assets are safer?

The media hype around Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX may have died down, but that doesn’t change the fact that the nepo baby of high-powered compliance lawyers swindled his customers out of the billions of dollars they trusted him with. FTX, a centrally managed digital asset exchange, was hailed as one of the safest places for people to store their money in the then-burgeoning cryptocurrency market; look how that turned out. Billions of dollars disappeared into the ether because of the incompetence of the managerial elite.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the U.S. experienced a 311 percent increase in ransomware attacks between 2019 and 2020, costing the American public hundreds of millions of dollars. People had their identities stolen, bank accounts compromised, and private information seized by ne’er-do-wells seeking to cash in on their anxieties after they were sequestered at home during Covid-19 lockdowns. According to the FTC, most of the people who were targeted in these scams were between the ages of 60 and 69 years old. The people conducting these schemes are aware of the fact that they are less likely to have a more holistic understanding of digital privacy and security.

Regardless of the assurances we’re given by the government, the people running corporate entities, or even ourselves, our information is not as secure as we’d like to think.

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