[nSLUG] NS 4.7x [was: Add yourself to the nSLUG member blogs wiki page]

Rich budman85 at eastlink.ca
Sun Jan 14 22:51:20 AST 2007

> I don't know anything about DMV, but this is a good time to mention
> the experience of my father-in-law, who retired to rural Maine and
> became involved with the local town government in various volunteer
> jobs.  Some anomalies came up in the property valuations.  To
> investigate these, he asked for a copy of the database.  A small town
> with no IT dept. can't do all the record keeping itself, so they hire
> a contractor to maintain the database and produce the various reports
> for accounting and reporting to state and federal agencies.  The
> contractor wanted
> $10k to produce a custom report for my father.  He went to court and
> got a judgement requiring the contractor to produce a copy of the
> database.  He then bought the software (commercial database package)
> and discovered an audit trail in the database.  The anomalies were due
> to the contractor fudging records in favor of her relatives.

wow.. that one of the things that worries me about 'outsourcing'
government.  Its outright extortion.  I should be shocked, but
corruption among local officials is always out of hand.  When I lived in
the States, the city of Scranton was always losing money hand over fist,
so they had an audit done.  There was so much corruption, that the
panels assessment was to disband the entire government and start over.
>From the audit, 14 officials were sentenced and some served serious time
(15 to 25 years).  The case study was so bad, the university now uses it
as a training guide in their criminal courses. 

Other towns were just as bad. A lot of mafia ties and drug gangs.
Pennsylvania is beginning to finally clean a lot of it up.  It amazing
how many crimes go unsolved because officers are on the take.  Americans
always joked about Mexican police.. but.. I think they need to take a
good look at their own.


> Public police, tax, and property records have also been used in
> identity theft. Typos in these records have caused some individuals
> real problems.

Same in the US..  I was able to trace my friend, I lost his phone number
during the move to Canada, by his utility bills.  If you pay for
electricity - you're address and phone number are available... for a
fee.  Just visit any local courthouse and you can trace the paperwork
quickly.  Often times without anyone even thinking to ask what you need
the information for and never ask for identification (if you are white).
Come to think about it, the media always shows minorities being arrested
for crimes, but you rarely see any whites being arrested (unless it was
really really bad).  Funny, nearly 70% of prisoners are white, but watch
TV and you will think otherwise. :)

> There is way to much personal data in public records, and very little
> real control over the security and integrity of these records.  I have
> had problems with propery tax record keeping in 2 different municipal
> governments in NS.   There is no federal or provincial oversight of
> these systems, and no federal oversight of provincial systems.

hmm.. that is scary

> In the US there are federal standards efforts (such as using
> encryption on all laptops, which will likely result in increased loss
> of data due to forgotten passwords), but it is too soon to tell if
> these will be effective or simply a cash cow for companies that sell
> "security" tools. 

Many version of PGP offer a third party for just this reason. There is
always a corporate/business secret key as well as the personal key.  A
while back, the government wanted a 4th key added so FBI or other could
decrypt the info as well... I don't think this flew over too well,
especially after the backdoor in all Windows system was discovered (The
NSA backdoor found in all Windows OS dating upto Win2k, not sure if the
newer versions contain it as well)

>  It has been an uphill battle to get standards for
> voting machines in the US -- few people are trying to do anything
> about the way local governments manage data.  In Canada my impression
> is that the large banks provide many of the financial services to
> local governments, and tend to take the attitude that they can handle
> security without regulation or external policing.

Voting machines with no paper trail - the mafia's dream come true!
So you want to be elected... No Problem... that will be 500G's

> It doesn't really matter what system is used to manage DMV records in
> NS. What does matter is that there is no public, transparent, system
> that offers assurances against data loss or leakage.  Can you get a
> record of all accesses to your data?  If there is leakage, will you be
> notified?
> If there is an error, can you get it fixed?
> There have been a number of "clerical" errors resulting in prisoners
> being released early and automobile accident reports being "mislaid".
> Are these symptoms of widespread data management failures in
> governments?  The public has learned to expect erratic behaviour from
> computing systems, so are willing to overlook glitches that may be
> signs of real problems.

I agree - there needs to be a system where we can check all the data is
valid.  You can be effected by this so quickly.. its really scary.  We
are held at the mercy of what type of mood the civil worker is in that

Good topic  (maybe branch the topic)



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