When Good Intent Goes Bad…Sleepy Hollow Camp Employees at Risk on Internet

Personally Identifiable Information, or PII as it is known in security circles, includes many things about an individual. Accordingly, names, addresses and social security numbers present a high risk to anyone if that information is combined anddisseminated.

The Village of Sleepy Hollow did just that in releasing a list of former summer camp employees along with other Board-related material to Hudson MICROIMAGING out of Port Ewen, New York. According to Toya Dubin, a company Vice President, Hudson MICROIMAGING was hired through grant and budgetary money to post information about Sleepy Hollow in an effort to keep people abreast of Village governance. Localarchives.org was developed by Hudson MICROIMAGING and is hosted and maintained by them as well. When visiting the website, one reads:Sleepy Hollow is pleased to be among the leaders in New York State in providing full public online access to the minutes of meetings of the Board of Trustees and other major Village Advisory Boards. We continue to do our best to ensure that this collection of meeting minutes is as complete as possible. We recognize that there are gaps and would appreciate any contributions from residents who attended these meetings and might have copies of the minutes. To contribute, call the Village Clerk at (914) 366-5106. Gaps will be filled as fast as we are able to collect the material in a verified format. The particular document in question that found its way to localarchives.org and subsequently to Google.com as well,was a multi-page compilation of Board activities including projects before them, resolutions, comments from the public and other material covering a wide range of topics. Embedded in those pages were the names, hourly wages, addresses and, in forty-seven cases, social security numbers of summer camp employees for that particular year.

This publication learned that the Village of Sleepy Hollow had been contacted about the situation the week of July 13 and, as of July 16, the information was no longer present on Google.com. A call to Toya Dubin revealed that within fifteen minutes of receiving a call from a Sleepy Hollow employee who had been alerted to the social security numbers online, Hudson MICROIMAGING had shut down the site. When asked how long the information had been online, Ms. Dubin said that the project was relatively new and she believed under a year old. She could not say how many visits her company’s site had received or the number of viewings of the particular information that contained the social security numbers. Dealing with Google took sending two “Urgent Requests” to the search engine. A call was placed as well to California and Google’s legal support office. The response she got was that removing the information would take 3-5 days and it appears they were correct.

At the time this publication went to press, it was unclear whether, or how, the Village of Sleepy Hollow was going to handle the issue with those people whose names, addresses and social security numbers were placed online. Nothing is secret or sacred on the internet and this publication chooses not to give the year that these employees were hired. As for Toya Dubin and her company, the incident with Sleepy Hollow has given her cause to look at the vast amount of information disseminated online with the best of intent. The Village will purely and simply need to be more vigilant with its internal matters for public record.

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About the Author: Robert Bonvento