Randy Ludlow reports for the Columbus Dispatch:
American Idol runner-up Crystal Bowersox gained national acclaim belting out her style of folksy blues on the popular TV show.
But some of the attention the Toledo-area singer received was unflattering, as police and others improperly checked to see if she had a criminal record or blemishes on her driving record.
From computers with access to personal information in confidential state databases, employees of five police agencies and a municipal court rummaged through Bowersox’s background.
And in Columbus, an Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles clerk examined vehicles registered in the performer’s name, and the home computer of an assistant city prosecutor was used to check on the newly minted star.
An Ohio Department of Public Safety official apologized in a July 1 letter to Bowersox for the unauthorized breaches of her privacy and wrote that there was no evidence she had become an identity-theft victim.
Bowersox has reportedly said she will not sue and that she wasn’t worried about any information they would have found. Of course, that’s not the point, and privacy advocates like this blogger would prefer her to realize that it’s not about whether you have something to hide.
One may wonder how serious the state of Ohio really is about stopping such snooping, as this is certainly not the first time we’ve seen such snooping reports. Ludlow does an admirable job of reporting all of the incidents in the news story and the consequences each person experienced. One employee was actually fired over the snooping and another was forced to resign. The others received relatively mild consequences that may incense people who believe that such privacy invasions are an abuse of government resources and more, undermine the public’s trust in its government.