By Austin Modine
1st July 2008
Like ball point pens, cigarette lighters, and the occasional key, flash
memory devices have a nearly unstoppable need to be set free upon the
world at large.
The result of this seemingly natural law is generally little more than
irksome at home, but when combined with the cosmic force of sensitive
data misplacement that is a government body, things tend to get a little
For proof, we travel to Japan a report from the Mainichi Daily News.
The paper tells us that Japan's military has confessed to losing a USB
device that contained troop deployment maps for a joint Japan-US
military exercise. Well, actually, the USB drive was stolen, recovered,
then accidentally thrown away.
In February of last year, a 33-year-old captain of the Ground
Self-Defense Force (GSDF) reportedly stole the memory stick along with
2,000 yen in cash and a 10,000 yen airline coupon.
The GSDF previously announced a one month suspension for the apprehended
officer for stealing the cash and coupon, but never mentioned the USB
drive to the public.
According to Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, the force withheld the
information because they didn't want people on the internet searching
for the data.
Shortly after, a lieutenant colonel borrowed the USB device and lent it
to a sergeant first class. The sergeant left it on his desk, where it
was accidentally tossed.
All three were reprimanded according to the GSDF. The data in question
is considered sensitive, but not touchy enough to pursue criminal
penalties just for losing it.
This is reminiscent of the case last year when three petty officers of
the Maritime Self-Defense FOrce were implicated for sending each other
specifications on the Aegis missile systems along with a "large
collection of obscene images."
The data reportedly included details on the number of targets the Aegis
missile system can track and formulas for its interceptor system. That
loss also ticked off the US military, as Aegis is an American system and
extremely important to the US Navy.
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