National Archives loses Clinton-era government data

When you work for a Federal body and lose a hard drive containing data for more than 100,000 people, it’s pretty embarrassing. But it must feel even worse when you describe yourself as “the nation’s record keeper.”

The National Archives and Record Administration agency, which keeps and maintains around 2% of government documents for legal and historical purposes, has lost a two terabyte hard drive containing records from the Executive Office of the President covering the Clinton administration.

The good news is that the records themselves are not lost to posterity as this was simply one of two hard-drive back-ups of the main tape cartridge records. The bad news is that the disk is reportedly unencrypted, though the NARA did not address that point in a press statement.

The disk contained a mix of records as it was a ‘snapshot’ of the data from computers belonging to staff who left their posts at the end of Clinton’s period in office. The NARA confirmed that the data did contain names and social security numbers for former Clinton staff and visitors to the White House during the time, which suggests security records may be involved. The disks apparently contained some details of operating procedures for both the White House and the Secret Service but it’s said there are no documents dealing with “national security”.

At the moment it’s not known whether the drive was stolen or merely misplaced, but NARA is offering a $50,000 reward for information which leads to its return. The agency is still working to identify people whose data was contained on the disks but says it will inform everyone concerned and offer them a credit monitoring service for a year.

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