State lawmakers call for investigation into COVID-19 contract tracing data breach

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. — State lawmakers along with members of the state house of representatives spoke Monday about the COVID-19 contact tracing data breach and called for a full, independent investigation.

A WPXI-TV investigation that aired Thursday, April 29 revealed that at least 72,000 Pennsylvanians had their personal information compromised by being made accessible on the internet after answering calls from employees of Insight Global, a vendor awarded a no-bid contract by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to conduct contract tracing.

In addition to serious concerns about the various consequences of the data breach and how residents may be affected, the lawmakers say they are also troubled by the lack of urgency by the Wolf administration adding that opportunities were missed to reduce the risks to Pennsylvanians.

Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) claims he became aware of the issue on April 1 and contacted the governor’s office. He says someone else had raised the same issue months ago and the office said that the claims of a breach were false.

Early in the week of April 19, Ortitay says the governor’s administration then acknowledged that a breach of confidential personal information had occurred when a reporter reached out to the Department of Health requesting an interview.

“Why didn’t the department or the governor’s office take action when they were notified months earlier and again by me in early April?” said Ortitay. “How many more people had their information compromised because the governor’s administration failed to act immediately? Also, why isn’t the department immediately terminating the contract of this company? Who is going to trust them moving forward? We need a full investigation.”

The lawmakers feel that an independent investigation, either at the state or federal level, is necessary in order to hold all the involved parties accountable. The request includes a look by the state attorney general’s office, the House Government Oversight Committee and any federal law enforcement agencies with appropriate jurisdiction.

“This contract was issued under sole-sourcing no-bid contract authority of the governor’s emergency disaster declaration. That means that the Wolf administration did not need to seek other bids, did not have seek better security maintenance, and did not have additional scrutiny over the issuance of this contract,” said House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin). “It is the latest example of extreme mismanagement from this administration that resulted in injury to Pennsylvanians and it is another example of why we are putting to the voters Constitutional amendments that would reassert legislative oversight into the management of emergency disaster declarations.”

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