Private records removed from Illinois Commerce Commission site

Associated Press
Updated 8/9/2012 3:42 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- The state auditor found significant personal information about consumers filing complaints with the Illinois Commerce Commission published on the agency's website, problems the regulatory agency began fixing last fall.

Auditor General William Holland reported Thursday that the ICC's "e-Docket" complaint system held a wealth of readily available private data posted by consumers.

"Through basic use of search functions, we identified a significant amount of unprotected personal confidential information," Holland said, including Social Security and driver's license numbers and even credit history and medical data.

He said the disclosures appeared to violate state law.

ICC spokeswoman Beth Bosch said the commission posted a disclaimer in October on the e-Docket website urging consumers not to disclose personal information and scoured the website for such data.

"We've gone through all the documents we could go through and removed anything that might be private," Bosch said, "just to make sure we don't have anything in there that's inappropriate or could accidentally be disclosed."

ICC technicians also reset search functions to make it more difficult to find unidentified personal information, such as searching by an address alone, Bosch said.

The e-Docket is the formal way consumers make complaints against utilities and other industries the ICC regulates. Most consumer concerns are handled informally by telephone or other direct contact with a staff member, Bosch said. The agency does have an online form for those informal complaints, but the public can't access that information.

Bosch was uncertain under what previous circumstances someone filing a complaint would include confidential information.

In addition to the Web page disclaimer, a notice is now included on e-Docket forms warning that private information should not be included, Bosch said. And a staff member is reviewing e-Docket filings with an eye for personal information before posting the complaint publicly, she said.

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