Senior citizens are now at even more risk for scams because of the media's disregard for their safety and millions of Utahns face greater risks of financial fraud, identity theft and medical ID theft now that their personal identifying information is on line.
Media Coalition members failed to inform Utahns that their personal information is on the web. In fact, it was only after I posted a story on alternative media, Examiner.com, that Utahns realized what had been done to them largely thanks to Facebook and Twitter posts of the article.
Even then, with limited exceptions, members of the Media Coalition only carried a single story on the release of the list. In most cases, that story placed the full blame for the release on the individual who legally posted the list and on efforts by Sen. Karen Mayne to prevent further postings to the Internet.
The reporting by members of the Media Coalition conspicuously failed to note that Mayne's bill allows the media to have full access to the list and authorizes the media to publish the personal information of everyone on the list.
The media has not carried any stories warning registered voters of the risk to their personal safety and security even though they carried multiple such stories when the Utah Health Department had a data breach.
Nor has the media covered the personal stories of those impacted by the posting of the voter list. In fact, with only very limited exceptions, members of the Media Coalition ignored a press conference where a domestic violence victim told how the posting of the list had affected her.
The media also, again with only limited exceptions, failed to report on Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings' call for the state to stop selling voters' personal information and his willingness to prosecute those misusing the information once the legislature passes HB302S01.
The media needs to start reporting this story even if it harms its efforts to keep the voter list public. It needs to let registered voters know that their information is on a public website and that they have to contact utvoters.com as soon as possible in order to get their personal identifying information removed from its site.
In addition, the Utah Media Coalition must stop opposing HB302S01 which (1) makes all voters' birth dates a private record and (2) allows voters to make their records private so they won't ever be sold again.
If the media defeats HB302S01, it will leave current voters with no choice but to cancel their voter registration, as some have already done, and it will strongly discourage unregistered voters from ever registering to vote.
Ronald Mortensen, Ph.D. is a retired United States Foreign Service Officer. He writes extensively on personal privacy issues and has testified before the United States Congress on identity theft.