Feds win standing to sue over OPM breach
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Jul 08, 2019
Feds have just won a major victory in their ongoing battle to get fair compensation for data breaches due to their employer’s failure to take adequate preventative measures.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled that federal employees can sue the government in these matters—specifically with respect to the massive Office of Personnel Management breach—disclosed in 2015—which compromised the data of at least 21.5 million persons.
The appeals court reversed the ruling of a federal district court, which had found that feds did not have standing to pursue a suit. Now, that lower court has been ordered to hear the case and judge it on its merits.
The American Federation of Government Employees is applauding the decision—and looking forward to some help for its members on the fallout they’ve endured in the wake of the compromise of their data.
“Two years ago, nearly 22 million current and former federal employees, job applicants, and their family members had their most personal and sensitive information stolen from OPM in one of the largest cyberattacks in U.S. history,” J. David Cox, president of AFGE, said in a press release. “Everyone affected deserves to see that justice is served, and that’s why our union was the first organization to sue the federal government over the data breach.”
Four years ago, the union filed a lawsuit against OPM, citing the agency’s “failure to heed warnings and obey security policies, leading to the disclosure of the personal records of 21.5 million individuals,” according to the release. The union and other advocates have been trying to obtain lifetime credit monitoring and liability insurance for those feds affected by the breach.
Hackers got hold of everythinig from Social Security numbers and birth dates to fingerprints and home addresses, as well as other information included in background checks and other job application data.
The appeals court, according to the union’s release, supplied language highly supportive of the union’s case.
“We conclude that not only do the incidents of identity theft that have already occurred illustrate the nefarious uses to which the stolen information may be put, but they also support the inference that [the plaintiffs] face a substantial—as opposed to a merely speculative or theoretical—risk of future identity theft,” the appeals court stated.