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USFEMA exposed personal information of 2.3 million disaster survivors

01:46  23 march  2019
01:46  23 march  2019 Source:   thehill.com

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FEMA exposed personal information of 2.3 million disaster survivors© The Hill FEMA Assistance vehicle The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Friday it failed to protect 2.3 million disaster survivors' sensitive personal information, potentially putting them at risk for identity theft and fraud.

The Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General found that the breach happened as the agency was transferring information to a contractor to secure temporary housing for those impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the 2017 California wildfires.

The agency said it is taking steps to mitigate the situation by working with the contractor to remove unnecessary material from its databases.

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"Since discovery of this issue, FEMA has taken aggressive measures to correct this error. FEMA is no longer sharing unnecessary data with the contractor and has conducted a detailed review of the contractor's information system," FEMA press secretary Lizzie Litzow said in a statement.

"To date, FEMA has found no indicators to suggest survivor data has been compromised," she added. "FEMA has also worked with the contractor to remove the unnecessary data from the system and updated its contract to ensure compliance with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cybersecurity and information-sharing standards."

FEMA said it has instructed contractors to complete additional privacy training.

The watchdog report indicated that while certain personal information is required to be given to the agency, FEMA exposed banking information, including transfer numbers, and personal addresses, in violation of the Privacy Act of 1974.

FEMA said it plans to modernize how it transmits personal information by June 2020.

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GOP disaster relief bill fails to advance in Senate.
The proposal would have provided millions of dollars less than Democrats have said is needed to assist continued storm recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. The GOP alternative would have also included extra money for states hit by recent flooding in the Midwest, including Iowa. "Democrats should stop fighting Sen. David Perdue's disaster relief bill. They are blocking funding and relief for our great farmers and rural America!" President Trump tweeted Monday, ahead of the Senate vote. Perdue, a Georgia Republican, introduced the $13 billion aid package in late February, which has one Democratic co-sponsor: Sen.

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