Editorial: Parson’s attempt to shift blame for faulty teacher website must be condemned

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As recently as Tuesday, Social Security Number Thousands of Missouri teachers were accessible to anyone with a web browser and an Internet connection. Thanks to the St. Louis journalist, they are way better protected today.

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Louis Post-Dispatch, that personal information was available through an online application that allowed the public to find the credentials and certifications of teachers in the state. Social Security numbers were not shown as part of the default display, the paper reported, but were present in the source code, which can be freely viewed by anyone with browser apps such as Safari, Firefox and Chrome. .

When a journalist discovered the flaw and confirmed the information with several teachers, Post-Dispatch alerted the state and waited until the problem was fixed before publishing the story.

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governor mike parsonresponse of? While holding a press conference during which he called the Post-Dispatch journalist a “hacker”, he threatened criminal prosecution and accused the newspaper of trying to “shame the state”.

The governor is doing a good job of this on his own.

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first Amendment:Here are the rights we enjoy – and must protect

Perhaps it is too much to ask that the person in the highest office in Missouri has a sound understanding of computers and the Internet. But basic knowledge of law and ability to accept responsibility for the shortcomings of the state should be one of the minimum qualifications for the job.

Instead, Parson put his ignorance on full display, accusing the Post-Dispatch of somehow stealing information state employees left unattended at the virtual curb.

related:Parson says Missouri suing after St. Louis reporter finds state data flaw

For anyone familiar with the way the websites work, Parson’s allegations are ridiculous—similar to accusing a passerby of theft as he called the police to report the front door of the governor’s mansion was open. Was.

Instead of exposing the governor’s back, the state’s negligence put the teachers’ knowledge at risk. Post-Dispatch operated itself responsibly, alerting the state to the vulnerability and preventing publication. In trying to shift the blame, Parsons has done the opposite.

Unfortunately, Parson’s brazen propaganda was at least partially effective, prompting some television news outlets to boast headlines such as “Hackers steal personal information from 3 teachers from Missouri Department of Education website.”

One would hope that the more reasonable – and computer-savvy – heads prevail when the Missouri State Highway Patrol checks. Heaven help us if Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson holds off to file criminal charges against a reporter trying to perform a public service.

I refused to lie under oath for my job:My employer, the state of Arizona, kicked me out. The courts are not in my favor.

social Security card

To be clear, though, this is not a harmless buffalo. In a transparent attempt to evade accountability, Missouri’s chief executive threatened to deploy state powers to access publicly available information and retaliate against a journalist who identified a problem. Such abuse must be condemned swiftly and in the strongest terms.

No one expected Parson to thank a newspaper for highlighting the failures of a state agency—failures that, by his own estimate, could cost $50 million to fix. But it seems he can at least admit that the website of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was very light on security and assured thousands of hardworking teachers that his administration would set things right.

Instead of threatening to prosecute people who pointed out the problem, they should be grateful that they were alerted by someone who had the safety of Missouri teachers on their mind.

This is the view of the editorial news-leader editorial board, which includes editor-in-chief Amos Bridges and content coaches Stephen Herzog and Harrison Keegan.

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