ImageRep. Gene Ward (R, Hawaii Kai-Kalama Valley) has requested assurance from the state’s Chief Information Officer that data housed in the state’s computer systems will not be misused by any entity that may gain access to the information under new legislation.

Senate Bill 1003 allows for periodic security audits of all Executive Branch departments and agencies to ensure that the state’s computer infrastructure and sensitive data are protected from unauthorized use, intrusions, and other security threats. It will become law on July 9 if not signed earlier by the governor.

The letter states, “Although … the bill is not intended to give State authorities a license to spy on the activities of Hawaii’s people, the language on page 2 of the bill referencing the contracting of security audits to private firms might be alarming to some … Reportedly, Mr. [Edward] Snowden was authorized by his firm to conduct surveillance on whomever he felt was necessary; there may be fears that this bill will result in similar surveillance activities in our State.”

Said Rep. Ward, “Much of the world was surprised to learn recently of some of the federal government’s surveillance activities, so I think it’s a fair question to ask as our state expands its IT infrastructure and develops brand new legislation on the subject. The people of Hawaii should have the peace of mind that their right to be free from unreasonable searches, seizures, and invasions of privacy will not be infringed upon.”

The letter requests written confirmation that “no one in the State of Hawaii, including State employees and elected officials, has been, is being, or will be subjected to NSA-style surveillance or collection/storage of private information under OIMT’s policies and procedures.”

In the letter, Rep. Ward also commends the newly formed Office of Information Management and Technology for its accomplishments in advancing open government and security and privacy.

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June 28, 2013

Mr. Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia

Chief Information Officer

State of Hawaii Office of Information Management & Technology (OIMT)

P.O. Box 119, Honolulu, Hawaii 96810-0119

Re:      OIMT assurances of citizen privacy in light of recent revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance activities

Aloha Sonny,

First, I would like to commend OIMT on its recent accomplishments, including the development and public dissemination of a comprehensive Business and Information Technology/Information Resource Management (IT/IRM) Transformation Plan.  The plan’s many worthy initiatives, such as Open Government and Security and Privacy, represent a significant step forward for our State.

I am writing about Senate Bill 1003 SD2 HD1 CD1 of the 2013 session.  I do appreciate that this bill will allow for periodic security audits of all Executive Branch departments and agencies to ensure that our State’s computer infrastructure and sensitive data are protected from unauthorized use, intrusions, and other security threats.

However, given the recent media reports of the scope of NSA’s top-secret call-tracking and internet surveillance programs, I am concerned that people in Hawaii may feel uneasy about the bill’s enactment and implementation.  Although I understand that the bill is not intended to give State authorities a license to spy on the activities of Hawaii’s people, the language on page 2 of the bill referencing the contracting of security audits to private firms might be alarming to some.  For example, Edward Snowden, the person attributed as having leaked the NSA story to the press, was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, a private firm contracted by the NSA that provides cybersecurity and technical support for government computers and networks.  Reportedly, Mr. Snowden was authorized by his firm to conduct surveillance on whomever he felt was necessary; there may be fears that this bill will result in similar surveillance activities in our State.

Therefore, I would like your assurances that Senate Bill 1003 SD2 HD1 CD1, once enacted into law, will not be implemented in a manner that infringes on the right of Hawaii’s people to be free from unreasonable searches, seizures, and invasions of privacy under the Hawaii and U.S. constitutions.  Please respond to my request in writing, to confirm that no one in the State of Hawaii, including State employees and elected officials, has been, is being, or will be subjected to NSA-style surveillance or collection/storage of private information under OIMT’s policies and procedures.

With Thanks and Aloha,

Representative Gene Ward, Ph.D.

Minority Leader Emeritus

Vice Chair, Economic Development and Business Committee

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