This month the manager of a self-storage facility in North Virginia found 69 boxes of records from Arlington National Cemetery after the unit in which they were stored fell into delinquency status. Because the boxes contain personal information such as Social Security numbers of deceased veterans, a criminal investigation is being made into potential privacy and management issues at the Army-run cemetery.
Upon his discovery, the self-storage manager called Arlington, which notified the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division. Records were reviewed and found to contain the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of veterans and family members buried at the cemetery. The records are copies meant, not originals, according to Kathryn Condon, director of the Army’s cemeteries program. The storage unit was being rented by someone hired to digitize Arlington’s burial records, cemetery officials said.
A congressional hearing was held to discuss the matter last Thursday. During the hearing, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) said he found it “extremely troubling” that this information had been left unsecured and he took takes the breach very seriously. But Paul Stephens, policy director for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit agency that tracks security breaches, said the information probably could not have been misused to open credit accounts or engage in identity theft.
Condon said the cemetery did not notify the public about the discovery because the records belonged to the dead and the Social Security numbers are no longer in use.
All but one of the 69 boxes have been returned to Arlington, according to An Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesperson. It was not revealed why investigators have kept the one box.