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Missouri governor vows criminal prosecution of reporter who found flaw in state website

missouriindependent.com
4 min read
fairly difficult
Missouri's governor promises to seek prosecution of a reporter and news outlet that discovered a privacy flaw in a state website.
On Tuesday, a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch alerted the state that Social Security numbers of school teachers and administrators were vulnerable to public exposure due to flaws on a website maintained by Missouri's department of education.

The newspaper agreed to hold off publishing any story while the department fixed the problem and protected the private information of teachers around the state.

But by Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson was labeling the Post-Dispatch reporter a "hacker" and vowing to seek criminal prosecution.

"The state does not take this matter lightly," Parson said Thursday at a hastily called press conference. He refused to take questions afterward.

Parson said he had referred the matter to the Cole County Prosecutor and has asked the Missouri State Highway Patrol to investigate.

"This administration is standing up against any and all perpetrators who attempt to steal personal information and harm Missourians," he said.

According to the Post-Dispatch, one of its reporters discovered the flaw in a web application allowing the public to search teacher certifications and credentials. No private information was publicly visible, but teacher Social Security numbers were contained in HTML source code of the pages.

The state removed the search tool after being notified of the issue…
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