Personal documents used as confetti in New York

Opinion by Dan Raywood

This week's news saw one of the world's most notable stores and the police department of Nassau County in New York in a rather unusual and hopefully unprecedented situation.

This week's news saw one of the world's most notable stores and the police department of Nassau County in New York in a rather unusual and hopefully unprecedented situation.

According to WPIX, department store Macy's annual Thanksgiving parade, notable for marching bands, balloons, cheerleaders and clowns, also included mounds of confetti that would have been useful for anyone looking to harvest personal information. The New York streets were littered with confidential personal information, including social security numbers and banking information for police employees, some of whom are undercover officers.

One attendee noticed that a strip of confetti had ‘SSN' and a number on the strip of paper, while others had phone numbers, addresses, car registration numbers and police incident reports. Also included was information about republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's motorcade, supposedly from the final presidential debate that took place at Hofstra University in Nassau County last month.

In a statement to PIX11, the Nassau County police department's commanding officer for public information, Inspector Kenneth Lack, said: "The Nassau County police department is very concerned about this situation. We will be conducting an investigation into this matter as well as reviewing our procedures for the disposing of sensitive documents."

Macy's said that it uses "commercially manufactured, multi-colour confetti, not shredded paper", and it is a mystery how this information came to be where it was. The challenge for the forensic teams is not only to figure that out, but also how to stop it happening again.

Those with memories of the ticker tape of the 1978 World Cup may not have thought where the paper actually came from, and in the days before the recycling bug caught us, I doubt anyone was really concerned about using recycled paper.

So perhaps that is the issue – mass produced paper cannot be bought, shredded and distributed environmentally, so something else needs to be used. In this case, this was a bad move, and I hope that the investigation reveals the real reason why confidential documents became parade confetti and prevents such a thing happening again.

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