(Warner Bros. Pictures)
Movie star Matt Damon was one of those who had their data looked up, according to the audit.
By Globe Staff
Civil liberties activists are calling for better protection of everyone's data after an audit found that police improperly tapped into the state's criminal records system to access information on celebrities ranging from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to singer James Taylor.
"The problem is, it doesn’t stop with the stars," Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts said in a statement.
"The misuse of law enforcement databases – reported by the state auditor – can have serious consequences for any of us. Unmonitored access gives power to government agencies to misuse information about ordinary people, not just celebrities and well-known public figures," she said.
The Globe reports today that the state auditor, in a scathing review, had found that law enforcement personnel looked up personal information on Tom Brady 968 times. "Repeated searches and queries" were also made on dozens of other celebrities such as James Taylor, actor Matt Damon, Celtics star Paul Pierce, and Red Sox owner John Henry.
Rose said three steps must be taken. First, the information in the databases should be accurate. Second, access must be auditable so that any abuse can be traced back to the user. And third, abuses should be met with real consequences.
Curtis Wood, executive director of the Criminal History Systems Board, acknowledged that inappropriate searches have been made over the years, but said the number was small, compared with the massive number of transactions made by the system.
He also said the agency could determine where the queries originated and would take action where necessary.
Thomas Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, said he was stunned by the misuse of the system. "Anyone caught socially surfing that important law enforcement asset should be stripped of their right to use it," he said.
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