Local Howard County Blogger Jenny Solpietro (of the blog Howard County Progress Report) decided to call out Scott E’s Blog in a post yesterday in her regular “Hall of Shame” type article (yep…no link from this blog…you have to go look it up because I refuse to drive traffic to that blogger). Now this “Hall of Shame” is not an actual “thing” because if it was it was it would call out people that did bad things…nope…that is not what this is…it is her issues about people not on her political team. Why did Scott E’ Blog (more specifically…me by name…because that is what local bloggers are doing now I guess) get called out…well…

Candidate for Howard County Board of Education in District 1 Matthew Molyett had a release of personal information on October 16th and that was reported by Scott E’s Blog. Not a minor release of information…but one that released more than 300 entries of names, phone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses and other information of what might (or could) be campaign supporters and volunteers and comments about those people. The actual data and information released is kind of significant from a political campaign.

The Molyett campaign admitted this release of information on their website. Scott E’s Blog covering local politics (as I do) covered this story to the best of my ability taking the quote from the website and taking the information sent to me and generalizing it so that people knew what was released but also so as not to release personal information. Be sure to check out the story here:  https://scotteblog.com/2020/10/17/candidate-for-howard-county-board-of-education-in-district-1-matthew-molyett-reports-a-campaign-data-breach/

The covering of this story (again…I feel relevant in an election cycle) earned me a spot in a Hall of Shame article from this new blogger. This blogger that apparently has no issue with a candidate collecting this information and allowing it to be released to the public (and not calling out that action in her Hall of Shame article). This information that contains the names, phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses and other “notes” about hundreds of Howard County residents. Wow.

Early yesterday Vicky Cutroneo called my future listing in the “Hall of Shame” on that blog…and dang did she nail that prediction yesterday (she posted this in a comment so I thought worth sharing…and kind of funny):

Howard County Progress Report and Scott E’s Blog are both up for the Best of Howard County “Best Blog” in 2020 (as well as eight other blogs in our community). The winner of that award should be released in the next month or so…it will be interesting to see how that plays out this year.

Content and facts apparently do not matter…only political leanings does for some people in this area. Glad I have gotten to know that fact about some folks over this political cycle. Not something you can unsee going forward. I get that people have strong political leanings…but dang.

I understand why people do not love my blog…I am not on a political team. If I think Republicans or Democrats (or others) do good or bad…I will write about it and give my comments on that content. I do not play political games with my blog or the content…do good (or if I agree with you) I will be your biggest cheerleader….do bad (or if I do not agree) I will let you know as well…your political leanings or party affiliation do not matter to me. That is just how I roll.

I expect to be mentioned in the “Hall of Shame” in the future because I am not on Jenny’s political team and will have no problem calling that “team” out when I disagree with them in the future. I guess I have to expect that in my role as a local news and information blogger.

As much as I love politics…I can not wait for this election cycle to end. Maybe then this community can get back to being normal (one can hope).

Scott E

16 COMMENTS

  1. I found that Hall of Shame article. It calls you out only for downloading the spreadsheet. Are you saying that you did not download the spreadsheet? Your linked post certainly suggests that you obtained it. Here you call Jenny a liar by asserting that facts don’t matter to some people, but you have not refuted any facts. As a computer professional you should realize you are on thin ice when/if you download stolen campaign materials—even in the name of journalism. Not republishing the materials is a good, but you should not be retaining that data—and your own post sure makes it sound like you did.

    The main bad actors in that Hall of Shame article appear to be the HCNU folks, and I have no knowledge of those assertions…. but you appear to know the specific Facebook groups that were sharing the information… so you probably do.

    • I have every right to read information shared with me. I do not have the right to share personal information of local residents (and I did not do so). I am not sure what you mean by “stolen campaign materials” when the information was shared on a local website for all (that visited that website) to view and download. There was really no need to mention me in the way that blog did….except to dig at me personally (hence calling me out by name). I wrote an appropriate article (at least I think so) given the information provided at the time.

      • Would you like cheese with your whine, Scotte? It’s good that you are finally being called out. Who do you think you are, Julian Assange?

      • Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment directly. It is stolen campaign materials if it was accessible only due to a miss-configured webserver, which is at least the campaign assertion – even if “the information was shared on a local website for all.” That is the textbook definition of a data breach, and the disclosed information is stolen information — Personally Identifiable Information on a campaign website is internal information that is not to be intentionally disclosed. Bad practice on the part of the Molyett campaign for not handling their PII better, but they and the people whose PII was disclosed are still the victims.

        Personally, I didn’t have a problem with your initial article on the matter — but I do think you should not have retained a copy of this material (which your initial post implied you might have retained, but did not explicitly state) except in support of law enforcement activity–because that only compounds the breach–it is still PII and should be handled appropriately.

        My issue is with this posted response to the Howard County Progress Report identifying you and your blog. You essentially stated that the author was a liar (“content and facts apparently do not matter”) when in fact the only stated items related to your blog post sound pretty true — you did download the materials, you did post commentary, and the comments (which you are not responsible for) ended up going nasty and blaming the victim. You don’t deserve to be lumped in with people trading nastily on that information, BUT you do appear to be minimizing any suggestion that people ARE trading nastily on that information while, perhaps unintentionally, providing a platform that is amplifying attacks against the victims.

    • He’s not on thin ice.

      First, if Mr. Molyett’s vague description is what I assume it is, someone put a public link out to the spreadsheet which then was likely passed around to multiple people and someone then posted it. That’s not stealing. That’s an attempt of security by obscurity which is something Mr. Molyett should know a little about.

      Second, Mr. Ewart did not post any of the names or information and simple possession of this document is not even remotely a crime. Yes, there is a question of journalistic ethics of whether to publish it, one only need to review the much larger issue of printing of things like the Pentagon Papers to understand that, but there is no criminality involved. You may want to review the First Amendment.

      • First Amendment doesn’t apply to what I was discussing. Unauthorized access, download, and retention of non-public information is criminal under the CFAA and a variety of other state and federal statues. I don’t think any responsible party would actually “go after” Scott E for having had access to this data, BUT, the CFAA and other hacking statutes are pretty young bodies of law, and anyone in the IT profession should treat PII and non-public information with the utmost care simply from the duties of professionalism.

        I don’t know the precise origin of the spreadsheet in question — but passing around a link very quickly becomes stealing if the link bypassed a security mechanism regardless of how thin. Intent becomes a part of the legal question (specifically if the person accessing the data knows that they are accessing something that they “shouldn’t be” or were “unauthorized to view”).

        Any time a person retrieves or comes into possession of non-public information, especially sensitive non-public information without authorization they are on thin ice. Simple possession of a document that you are not authorized to receive very easily turns into accidental distribution of a document you were not authorized to have. A responsible person does not want to be part of that chain. Even if not strictly illegal, there are ethics and proprieties that people should be mindful of. I applaud Scott E for not printing names & information from the document, and don’t suggest that he personally has broken any law! He should exercise care–for professionalism and because being part of a chain handling this information is just not a good place to be.

        To your pentagon papers comment — Daniel Ellsberg was prosecuted under the Espionage Act and charges were only dropped because it became clear that the papers disclosed actual underlying criminality and it was starting to look really bad for the government to pursue that case. Whether he could have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act even given the underlying public interest in his disclosure is untested so far as I know. You might want to review your history.

        Doxing is more complicated under the First Amendment, but, Doxing is not protected speech to the point that it constitutes a true threat against a person. Under state law, computer harassment and cyberstalking is specifically prohibited, so doxing, in Maryland, is definition something to be avoided, and would not be protected speech. I know my First Amendment reasonably well, not perfectly, but well enough, thank you very much.

  2. A link to a redacted version of the spreadsheet was posted to a Facebook group which I administer. I downloaded it to see what the spreadsheet contained. I thereby determined that it was information private to the Moylett campaign and that it was inappropriate to share on a public Facebook group. I deleted the post that linked to it, and placed the poster on moderation.

    It was necessary for me to download the spreadsheet in order to take these actions.

    • It sounds like you did the right thing — it sounds like you pulled not from the original breach mechanism (whatever that is) but the linked, redacted one that was posted, and if you weren’t retaining it afterwards, then I’d applaud you even more.

      Not sure if your group is any that HoCo Progress Report was complaining about (I hope not based on what you said, but regardless); assuming this sums up what is happening on your group, regardless of political bent no one should be complaining about your actions. I think (hope) Scott E was only getting pulled into the fracas because of the lack of clarity about how he came into possession of the data + what happened later and because of the comments of others on his message boards/FB group in response to the story.

      I get pretty ruffled about PII breaches and how the responses are handled because too many people think something along the lines of: someone else took the data, now I have it, so I might as well hang on to it, without thinking about the fact that they could be breached in the future and that they shouldn’t really have the data in the first place.

  3. ” As much as I love politics…I can not wait for this election cycle to end. Maybe then this community can get back to being normal (one can hope). ”

    I totally agree.

    But, I don’t think it is going to get better in the future.

  4. Vicky belongs in the Hall of Shame. You not so much. Both of you are narcissists, love attention and publicity no matter how it comes your way. Funny how you both use transparency to promote yourselves. Oh don’t like what I said? Too damn bad. It’s what many think.

  5. If I am Matthew Moylette, I will simply apologize: sorry, my team messed up and released PPI unknowningly. I just don’t understand him holding up his own mistake and failure, and blame others. This victim mentality will not help anybody. I would love to have a look at his FBI report and case number. He definitely wants to silence and threaten voters, which will not work in Howard County, I hope. It is shameful for him and for those who supports such a flawed candidate. If he wins the election, many more drama will come to the school board.

    • Roy, please explain, in detail, why you have chosen to label Mr. Moyett as a “flawed candidate” and not Ms. Delmon-Small? I am asking as a Howard County citizen and a Progressive Democrat. Just a reminder: District 1, like the majority of Howard County, has a large Democratic Party constituency and your views do not reflect those of the majority.

      I live in District 4 and have already voted for Ms. Mallo, another Progressive.

  6. I have found Scott’s blog to be very factual and deliberately apolitical, thank God. It’s hard to understand why anyone would read it as biased but I guess that’s the world we’re living in now.

  7. Ann and R.( whoever the heck you are with your hidden initial) just stop trolling Scottie over your ill informed opinions and juvenile beliefs here. When R says things like ” the First Amendment doesn’t apply to what I was discussing” you know you are dealing with a rat just out to cover tracks for its dirty master. Sick, demented activism on steroids dont belong here.
    Ann seems to be her mentor and is a known spoiler for Scottie with her twisted agenda…notice the red herring distraction to the conversation she tries

    As mentioned here Mathew Moylett is the subject and he should fess up first for his recklessness and apologize to HOCO district 1 citizens , rather than try to harass voters and independent media. If I know a list of HOCO Private Identifiable Info is floating around, I have every right to access it to determine if I am on the list especially if its on a public website titled so and legally sue (yes sue) the heck out of the candidate for divulging such personal info that could get in the wrong hands. The info disclosed to the Board of Elections is not for public use or resold to 3rd parties.

    R – the rat may very well be the new blogger coming here to passionately defend her “shaming” list. Such tactics as someone said betray activism for politics. Journalism calls for a higher standard, not silly juvenile childish sensations. You are way over your league here.

    Sadly this just shows the direction political discourse in HOCO is going. The powers that be like such dumbed down shaming and flaming to steer away from their real crimes and swindles. Wouldnt be surprised if she’s a paid shill.

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