Government Officials Part of Lawsuit Claiming Information Illegally Accessed

Posted at: 09/12/2013 11:21 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- 18 different people are suing roughly 50 government agencies across the state of Minnesota, claiming they illegally looked up their private information. Almost all of those plaintiffs are from our area.

They were up at the state capitol this morning presenting their cases where they believe their information was looked up illegally. The plaintiffs say they've heard of government employees doing this before, looking up someone's information without a government purpose to do so, and when they looked to see how many times their information, and even their kids information was accessed, they said it was shocking.

"Why would law enforcement officials go into these federally-protected records? Well, to gain any information they could," said Attorney Erick Kaardal.

The group presented their case at the capitol Thursday morning. As to why they believe their information was viewed illegally - one thing that seems to link this group is that they or someone in their family is politically active. "I realize and understood maybe the motivation of political opponents to look at my data, but when I saw that my wife and daughter had their data accessed, I went from stunned, to angry, to we need to do something about this," said Republican Representative Steve Drazkowski. He is in on the lawsuit and says government employees have been snooping at his private information, even his families. "I had 95 different pings, we call them, or different data accesses of my driver’s license data, my wife and daughter had 38, 133 total for our family," said Rep. Drazkowski.

Wabasha County Commissioner Deb Roschen says she found something similar. "It kind of turns into fear and anxiety because at that point you realize hundreds of people have your private information, and what’s their motive, what’s their intent, what are they going to do with that information?" said Roschen.

Plus, it’s what's in that information that has most of them on edge. "Your social security number, your personal photo, your height, your weight, organ donor information, other medical  information," said Rep. Drazkowski.

"We're concerned what the future is going to be now that everyone has our private data," said Roschen.

Their lawsuit is to primarily send a message, that this needs to stop. "If they're law breakers, they need to be treated as such," said Roschen.

"This is about sending a signal to government, that you can’t just do this to people," said Rep. Drazkowski.

The next step in this process is to investigate these findings and discover who's responsible. Plaintiffs say they hope those responsible will pay consequences, but also hope this will spur new legislation that toughens penalties against this crime.