Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parson is escalating a confrontation with his local newspaper after it exposed a major cybersecurity vulnerability in one of the state’s websites. Josh Renaud, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, recently learned that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education inadvertently released the social security numbers of tens of thousands of teachers through an insecure website discovered.
Rallying Missouri, now the governor’s political action committee, has doubled down on its claims and released a bizarre video dramatizing them for the most MAGA-minded voters. blames fake news,” the video is blatantly post-deployment, using blatantly Trump-like language and portraying Parson as a sort of crusade against the corrupting influence of local journalism trying to demonize. Parson is widely seen as being quite supportive of the former president, and mirrors him in many ways.
After he disclosed the vulnerability to the government, Persson did what any sane official would do: accused the journalist of “hacking” the site and threatened legal action. Many cybersecurity experts online rushed to the reporter’s defense and said that looking at the publicly available HTML code (where the educator’s personal information was allegedly found) had nothing to do with “hacking”. pointed out. But those comments don’t seem to affect anyone in Parsons’ office.
“Updates from Missouri’s Fake His News Factory originate from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” the video reads. It goes on to basically regurgitate the “hacking” claims and insinuate that the newspaper was somehow trying to spread misinformation about the state`s very real data leak. Not long after the video`s release, Uniting Missouri tweeted: “For years, the liberal media has attacked Republicans. Today, Governor Parson is fighting back, referring a reporter who invaded teachers` confidential information for prosecution.”
It wasn`t immediately clear how to reach Uniting Missouri, as the website does not provide a contact portal or a press contact. Having watched the PAC`s video, however, I have to say that—even by political advertising`s standards—it is quite ridiculous. You can see it and judge for yourself. Perhaps the strangest and funniest thing about this video is that Parson is portrayed as something of an educator’s protector of privacy.
Despite all this, the governor`s office has yet to make clear what it thinks Renaud and the Dispatch actually did—only stating repeatedly that the culprits took steps to “decode” information that wasn`t “freely available.” When reached via phone on Friday, Kelli Jones, Parson`s communication`s director, told Gizmodo that an investigation into the incident is “still in progress” and that “interviews are currently being conducted” by the State Highway Patrol`s Digital Forensics Investigation Unit.
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