E-mail to volunteers gets a bit personal

BY DEBORAH S. MORRIS - Newsday, Inc.

August 26, 2004

Oops! A welcome e-mail that was sent to hundreds of volunteers for the Republican National Convention inadvertently included the name, address, Social Security number, race and other personal information of those volunteers.

The e-mail, with a subject header of "Transportation Volunteer Information - Final Email Before Your Arrival to NYC," was sent out yesterday across the country and apparently was to serve as a checklist for transportation volunteers' arrival on Saturday.

At the end of the e-mail, two attachments, which when opened, display private information such as volunteers' home, work and mobile phone numbers as well as their birthdates, rooming information and other personal information. The information, if it landed in the wrong hands, would be a security concern.

"The attachment was inadvertent," Leonardo Alcivar, spokesman for the Republican National Convention, said yesterday. "As a precaution, security [personnel] has been alerted and will take any additional steps necessary to protect the integrity of anyone listed."

He would not say how many people received the e-mail.

Outlined in the e-mail was the protocol for coordinating with the transportation volunteer manager upon arrival, as well as a suggestion to wear comfortable shoes and attire during their four-day stint.

In a nod toward tourism, the letter also suggests volunteers should "enjoy all that New York City has to offer - restaurants, shopping, etc." The letter ends with a hearty thank you to the volunteers for offering their time and assistance.

According to the convention Web site, more than 18,000 people applied to volunteer at the convention to help out in transportation, information services, hospitality and special events.