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State Dept. employee sentenced for accessing celebrities' data

Mar. 25, 2010 - 04:08PM   |  
By INES BEATRIX   |   Comments
A former State Department employee has been sentenced to 12 months of probation and 50 hours of community service for illegally accessing confidential personal data of more than 60 celebrities and other individuals. / STATE DEPARTMENT

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State Department employee Debra Brown was sentenced to 12 months of probation and 50 hours of community service for illegally accessing confidential personal data of more than 60 celebrities and other individuals.

Brown, 47, of Oxon Hill, Md., pleaded guilty in December to a criminal charge of unauthorized computer access.

As a file clerk at State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Brown accessed the Passport Information Electronic System (PIERS) database to view the passport applications of more than 60 celebrities and friends with no other purpose than to satisfy her "idle curiosity," Brown said in court documents.

The PIERS database has extensive information about applicants, which includes passport applicants' photographs, full names, dates and places of birth, current addresses, telephone numbers, parent information, spouse names and emergency contact information.

Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeny said Brown's plea is the latest of nine guilty pleas resulting from a Justice Department investigation.

Of the nine, two were contractor employees and seven were federal employees working at State. So far, all have been sentenced to 12 months of probation, and most have been ordered to perform between 50 and 100 hours of community service.

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