What Protects the Protected{2}

by Irving A

The New York Times published an article recently about the true security behind the nation’s financial information. The Securities and Exchange Commission monitors the nation’s financial markets, but is also responsible with protecting its employee’s financial information. About two years ago, the S.E.C. began monitoring its employee’s financial information using a limited database, but recently changed to a new system with a more comprehensive database, the Ethics Program System, to “clear their securities transactions in advance and to record details about their financial holdings” (Singer, 2011). While only very few employees would have access to E.P.S., it was assured that financial data would be safe under the new database. However, the agency overestimated its privacy controls. Over a week ago the agency warned employees that F.T.T. had granted subcontractors access to the system. These subcontractors were exposed to personal financial information, although there was no suspicion of misuse of the data.


These are the types of issues that arise when permission is granted to third-party software and database developers. Although this case pertains to financial information, one is subject to such exposure every time sensitive information is submitted to the government. This raises polemical questions about our government’s practice in protecting personal information. Although databases are designed to protect and organize information, it is important to make sure such software does not fall into fraudulent hands. This also raises questions such as how much information government agencies should have and how long should they keep it to perform their functions correctly. Also, should government agencies manage outside contractors that manage government data systems? These are major gaps in our federal data protection.

To ensure proper data separation between contractors and subcontractors, one should be aware of the six properties of relational tables. This ensures that developers and users can be certain of the type of data contained in a given column as well as data validation. The separation of information in databases prevents from subcontractors from accessing certain data that is more personal and confidential, such as the financial information of government employees.


Singer, N. (2011, October 22). It guards the markets, but what about itself?. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/business/at-the-sec-questions-about-its-own-privacy-controls.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=database&st=cse