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Anonymous Exposes Census Data to Protest Controversial Trade Deals (UPDATED)

Gil C/

Updated: The director of the Census Bureau said in a July 24 blog post that only the Federal Audit Clearinghouse, which is housed on externally facing IT systems and contains nonconfidential data, was breached.

The Census Bureau, part of the Commerce Department, recently bore the brunt of grievances about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The hacktivist group Anonymous claims to have leaked sensitive data found inside the U.S. population-tracking bureau’s systems, according to an International Business Times report. Census maintains the information is not private.

The stolen information, which has been posted online, includes employee names, email addresses, phone numbers and positions within the federal government. The bundle also includes password hashes – which are difficult, but not impossible, to crack.

The bureau’s mission statement includes the line, "We honor privacy, protect confidentiality, share our expertise globally and conduct our work openly."

Part of the motivation for the attack is the cloak officials have draped around trade deal negotiations, secrecy which Anonymous has expressed dissatisfaction over before.

Census confirmed the incident occurred and that it is looking into the matter, but pointed out the information stolen was "nonconfidential.”

An emailed statement read: “The U.S. Census Bureau is investigating an IT security incident relating to unauthorized access to nonconfidential information on an external system that is not part of the Census Bureau internal network. Access to the external system has been restricted while our IT forensics team investigates.”

(Image via Gil C/

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