US whistleblower's details exposed on the web

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A US court had ordered that the personal details of a Californian man be removed from the web, ruling that the information was posted online in retaliation for him blowing the whistle on a bankruptcy fraud case..

Within weeks of notifying authorities of what he believed to be bankruptcy fraud, Glenn Hagele, of Sacramento California, learned that archived government documents with his private identity information were being published on the internet.

In a civil lawsuit, Hagele alleges Lauranell Burch, a staff scientist at the National Institute of Health (NIH), used secure government computer resources to manage and hide ownership of the websites controlled through a Thailand intermediary.

Hagele, who is founder of the Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance, said: "My name, date of birth, driver's licence number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, samples of my signature, and worst of all, my Social Security number, were on the internet for anyone to see."

According to a lawsuit, Hagele's identity was published by Burch, who was sharing her home with Brent Hanson at the time he was targeted for the bankruptcy in the fraud investigation. Hagele believes the publication is retaliation for notifying authorities.

"The proverbial smoking gun," said Hagele, "is found in emails sent to a domain registrar in Thailand that originate from Dr. Burch's computer at the NIH." A registrar handles management of a website's internet address.”

"This is really not so much an issue of whether or not Dr. Burch can gain access to public documents, but whether or not it is appropriate to publicize private information once it was in her possession," said attourney Jon Sasser, who is representing Hagele.

"Malicious publication of identity is exactly why the law was strengthened. There is a tremendous difference between legitimate access to public documents and publicising someone's Social Security number."
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