NTEU Fights Attempt to Throw Out Its Cyberbreach Lawsuit

Binary codeThe National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) yesterday argued against the administration’s attempt to persuade a federal court to dismiss the union’s cyberbreach lawsuit.

In oral argument, NTEU urged the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to reject the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The union reiterated that its members have a constitutional right to informational privacy, which was violated by OPM’s failure to adequately protect the personal information that NTEU members provided to it with the expectation that OPM would keep the information confidential.  NTEU members were among the more than 20 million individuals whose personal information was stolen from OPM’s information systems in cyberattacks that OPM disclosed last year.

United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) logoThe constitutional right to informational privacy “protects inherently personal information provided to the government on the promise of confidentiality, and it provides a basis for a claim where … the government disregards that promise,” NTEU said in court papers.

OPM was warned for nearly a decade about its information security deficiencies, but failed to shore up its cyber defenses. NTEU pointed out that OPM’s own Inspector General remains concerned that OPM’s information systems, including those containing federal personnel records, continue to be vulnerable to cyberattack.

NTEU rejected OPM’s claim that the union and its individual co-plaintiffs lack legal “standing” to pursue their case. They have standing, the union said, because they suffered a cognizable injury when their information was stolen from OPM databases. Further, NTEU members remain at substantial risk of having their personal information stolen in a future cyberattack due to OPM’s still deficient information technology security.

Image of digital padlocks over a digital data stream (cyber security)Among other relief, NTEU wants the court to order OPM to provide lifetime credit monitoring and identity theft protection to any NTEU member affected by the cyberattacks and to take corrective measures to improve its information technology security.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.