(AUDIO] GOP lawmaker believes Parson has gone too far in threating prosecution in state’s flawed applicant

Gov. Mike Parson and a Republican lawmaker are not in agreement about how a flaw in a state web application is being handled.

Parson threatened criminal prosecution during a press conference this Wednesday after he said that a news organization took several steps in order to find a vulnerability in a Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Department website application. The flaw could have revealed the social security numbers and private information of nearly 100,000 teachers.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson briefs Capitol reporters in Jefferson City on December 2, 2020 (file photo courtesy of the governor’s Flickr page)

Parson claims that the following are the facts St. Louis Post-DispatchThe newspaper did not have permission for what it did. He says the newspaper was “acting against a state agency to compromise teachers’ personal information in an attempt to embarrass the state and sell headlines.”

The St. Louis Post-DispatchIt stated that it first notified the state about the flaw and gave the agency enough time to remove the online information.

Representative Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, tells Missourinet the newspaper was not trying to maliciously break into a system. Lovasco has been working in IT for around 20 years.

“Looking at the source code and even going through and decoding, as they say, some information that is otherwise open in the clear to anyone who has a web browser – that’s not at all the same as someone who is attempting to actually enter the network without authorization,” says Lovasco. “Regardless of what the law actually says, I think just decency says we should not be prosecuting someone who very clearly did not have malicious intent. I think the General Assembly should make the statute clearer about how we handle whistleblowers in these kinds of situations. But I would just say the proper thing to do is to thank the guy for his service, fix the situation and move on.”

State rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon (Photo courtesy of Tim Bommel, House Communications)

He says he does not think Parson’s threat is going to encourage people to come forward when future state data security problems are found.

“There’s a cliche we hear a lot a lot in government that, you know if you see something, say something. This gentleman saw something. He said something. Now, he’s getting threats. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work,” Lovasco says.

Lovasco suggests that the Legislature clarify the law in relation to whistleblowers.

Margie Vandeven, K-12 Education commissioner, was once again criticized by those who are anti-critical of her race theory and school choice crowds. School choice legislation and restrictions on racial history education are made by the Legislature – not the Missouri Education Department. Missourinet was told by Mallory McGowin, a DESE spokeswoman, that Dr. Vandeven does not intend to resign.

The Missouri Office of Administration maintains the application containing the weakness.

Click below to hear the complete interview with Rep. Tony Lovasco.

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