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Dayton defends MNsure rollout, calls driver’s license data breach ‘outrageous’

Briana Bierschbach//September 18, 2013

Dayton defends MNsure rollout, calls driver’s license data breach ‘outrageous’

Briana Bierschbach//September 18, 2013

Gov. Mark Dayton
Gov. Mark Dayton

Gov. Mark Dayton defended the rollout of MNsure, the state’s not-yet operating health insurance exchange program, after a data breach raised concerns about the security of the system.

Last week it was disclosed that a MNsure employee had accidentally emailed Social Security numbers and other private information for 2,400 insurance agents to a broker. The breach raised concerns that the system has not been sufficiently tested before the official launch of the exchange on Oct. 1. The exchange aims to serve 1.3 million Minnesotans by the end of its first year running.

In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with reporters on Wednesday, Dayton said that while the security of private information in the system is “absolutely essential,” the gaffe was “an honest mistake.”

“They acted responsibly and they contained the situation, and there was no harm done to anybody,” Dayton said. “There are people out there who just want to destroy the health exchange, who want to destroy the Affordable Care Act and leave this country with no health care system at all.”

Dayton said coverage of the exchange rollout has been overwhelmingly negative, but overall he’s proud of the work being done on the state’s one-of-a-kind system. “Every little mistake is going to be seized upon,” he said. “It’s one thing to start a small business in obscurity and grow that small business. This is starting a huge business from day one in the public spotlight.”

Driver’s license data breach “outrageous”: The governor says an uptick in driver’s license data breaches by state and local government employees is “outrageous” and could cost the state “hundreds of millions” in liabilities.

Last week, GOP state Rep. Steve Drazkowski joined 17 others in a lawsuit claiming their private data was accessed hundreds of times over as part of political payback by law enforcement, state and local government officials. According to the extensive civil complaint, various public employees wrongfully viewed the defendants’ driving records and other personal information more than 600 times, each of which would constitute a violation of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). Such data breaches have become more commonplace in the state. Earlier this year, a report by state auditors discovered that more than half of Minnesota’s law enforcement agents had misused the Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) database.

“There’s something not normal about that behavior, and I think those that are responsible for it should be disciplined to the most extent possible within the boundaries of what current law and contract provides,” Dayton said. “People need to be sure that their private information remains private.”

Dayton said he plans to talk with lawmakers and Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman between now and the start of the next legislative session to determine a possible legal remedy to the situation.

Tension grows over personal seat licenses:  The governor’s ever-strained relationship with Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf was on display again this week.

The governor sent a letter to Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (MSFA) Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen on Monday “strongly” urging her to reach an agreement that puts the team owners on the hook for a substantial investment of their own assets toward paying for the cost of the stadium. The Wilfs are responsible for $477 million of the $975 million stadium, but  they can tap other sources of revenue to help pay  the bill, including revenue generated from selling personal seat licenses (PSL) to season ticket buyers.

The amounts are currently being negotiated between the team and the MSFA. “I would like to have it as low as possible, if I had my way it would be zero, but that’s not the way professional sports operate these days,” Dayton added on Wednesday. “Every dollar takes it farther away from being a peoples’ stadium, so I urged the authority to negotiate it as low as possible. We have more leverage now than when this was being discussed during the end of the 2012 session. The Vikings hadn’t committed to the project and they hadn’t committed to staying in the state of Minnesota, so we had much less leverage in the situation than the authority has now.”

Dayton added that, despite his role in helping to pass the stadium project, he will not be purchasing a personal seat license in the new stadium. “I’m not going to buy a seat, I don’t think it’s appropriate,” Dayton said, adding that he will pay regular ticket price if he wants to go to a game. He also took a jab at the team — “I’d also like to go to a winning game, so that narrows my choice,” Dayton said. “They’ll get there, they’ll get there. I’ve got confidence.”

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