Florida’s justification for raiding COVID whistleblower Rebekah Jones is looking shaky

Florida’s justification for raiding COVID whistleblower Rebekah Jones is looking shaky
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Florida’s justification for raiding COVID whistleblower Rebekah Jones is looking shaky

Florida’s justification for raiding COVID whistleblower Rebekah Jones is wanting shaky

On Tuesday, Florida state police entered the house of Rebekah Jones with weapons drawn, seizing her laptop and telephone, in an try and show that she’d despatched an unauthorized “group textual content” by means of “a Division of Well being messaging system” that’s “for use for emergencies solely,” in accordance with authorities.

There at the moment are two the explanation why that’s vital. First, as we reported on the time, Jones isn’t simply any former Florida Division of Well being worker: she’s the whistleblower who constructed Florida’s once-celebrated COVID-19 monitoring dashboard, then accused her bosses of ordering her to control Florida’s information to justify reopening the state.

Second, it’s now come to our consideration that the supposedly personal messaging system that Jones may need accessed may need successfully simply been an electronic mail deal with — an electronic mail deal with that the Florida Division of Well being could have inadvertently printed for anybody to see on the open net.

As Ars Technica reviews, Redditors found that not solely does the Florida Division of Well being have a single shared username and password, however that username and password can be freely accessible on the internet. Right here’s a redacted screenshot that Ars captured of only one of not less than seven PDFs that include the knowledge, PDFs that I additionally simply discovered with a Google search. All of them are nonetheless on-line on the time I sort these phrases:


Screenshot by Ars Technica

However it’s not simply the username and password which might be listed: these pages even have the e-mail deal with of the actual group Florida’s Division of Regulation Enforcement (FDLE) claimed was hacked: “StateESF8.Planning.”

Within the FDLE’s affidavit — which is the way it obtained a search warrant for Jones’ residence — the division characterizes StateESF8.Planning as a “multi-user account group” and talks about how Florida makes use of it to “coordinate the state’s well being and medical assets, capabilities, and capacities.” That every one sounds very official and essential:


A small portion of the affadavit.

Nevertheless, the publicly obtainable usernames, passwords, and electronic mail addresses counsel it may need simply been a bog-standard mailing record with an terrible lot of customers, not one thing notably personal or safe. The e-mail deal with nonetheless seems to be legitimate, although the Florida webmail software now not appears to be on-line.

None of this essentially signifies that Jones didn’t ship the message (although she vehemently denies she did). An FDLE agent underneath oath says the “group textual content” was particularly despatched from a Comcast ID related together with her residence deal with, and that’s why her residence was raided.

But when Jones did occur to ship an electronic mail to a large mailing record she was once a part of, one listed on the open net, would that be a lot of against the law? (I’m not a lawyer.)

I requested the FDLE to elucidate the way it might have been accessed illegally, if the e-mail deal with may need required somebody to make use of personal credentials in some way, however a FLDE spokesperson declined, citing the energetic investigation, merely saying that my strategies have been “not correct,” and that “this was not merely an electronic mail.” The Florida Division of Well being didn’t reply to a request for remark.

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