The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation raided the home of a former state employee on Friday night they say stole the personal information of approximately 6,000 state and Metro government employees, according to The Tennessean.
In a statement, TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said state officials searched the Hermitage home of 24-year-old Steven Hunter to seize computers that held the personal information of government employees. That information included Social Security numbers, full names, dates of birth and home addresses.
Hunter was accused of sending that data from his state email account to his personal email account before he resigned from the Tennessee Department of Treasury on Thursday.
State officials found the transfer of information after he quit his position and then requested state investigators get involved, the TBI said.
Hunter was hired last July to contact vendors who did business with the state government.
Legislation filed by state Sen. Brian Kelsey would make keeping confidential the identity of those making comments on online news stories a matter of state law.
According to a news release from Kelsey, R-Germantown, the bill (SB106) was inspired by the Shelby County Commission’s efforts to subpoena the identities of all online commenters on the Commercial Appeal stories about moves by Memphis’ suburban cities setting up their own separate school districts. A federal judge rejected the subpoena request.
“This legislation will safeguard the free and open exchange of ideas,” said Kelsey. “Political discourse should be encouraged– not discouraged through fishing expeditions by over-zealous lawyers.”
“News organizations themselves should determine how much identifying information of online commenters to make public.”
The bill’s text says it would apply to “any information related to the identity of a person who participates in online services offered by the news media or press, including, but not limited to, name, phone number, postal address, e-mail address, or IP address.”
That language is added to a portion of state law listing “privileged communications” that cannot be used as evidence in court proceedings in most situations. Other examples include conversations between a husband and wife, private conversations with a member of the clergy, and communications between a psychiatrist and patient.
The bill’s summary on the Legislature’s website says it block demands to news media for such information from “a court, grand jury, general assembly or other administrative body.”
Gov. Bill Haslam offered a broad defense today of his efforts to
shift the state’s business-development incentives from tax credits toward direct
cash grants and to keep secret the owners of companies who win taxpayer funding. More from Richard Locker’s report:
Speaking to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Haslam acknowledged the two
bills he’s asked lawmakers to approve have set of a public debate but said he
believes giving businesses cash to move to or expand in Tennessee will cost
taxpayers less and be more “transparent” and more effective over time.
He also said he and lawmakers are trying to find a balance between the
information the state asks of businesses to help officials make decisions about
awarding incentives and the amount of that information disclosed to the public.
His administration is pushing a bill that would allow the state to obtain more
information from businesses applying for public assistance to build or expand,
including financial information, trade secrets and owners of privately held
companies, and keep it confidential even after public money is awarded.
But he said he’s been told that public disclosure of owners of private
companies will cost Tennessee in lost jobs.
“I understand the concern about public money and people wanting to understand
who is ultimately benefitting from that. But I think everybody needs to understand, none of our competitors are asking for that information or making that public. So if we do that, we will be at a decided disadvantage,” Haslam told reporters after the speech.
“You can go talk to people who we’re dealing with and they will say, if that’s the deal, then we’re out. That’s why you have the legislative process, to try to get it right and get the right balance.”
Full story in the Commercial Appeal website HERE.