Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida, has committed a serious privacy blunder by publishing almost 300,000 emails online,
Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida, has committed a serious privacy blunder by publishing almost 300,000 emails online, which include sensitive information relating to Florida constituents and the US governmentReuters

Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida, has unwittingly committed a major privacy blunder by publishing almost 300,000 emails sent to him which include the sensitive personal data of many constituents.

Bush is a younger brother of former president George W Bush and is rumoured to be a 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

Full names, email addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers and mailing addresses were released and freely accessible on the Jeb Emails section of his website, together with the complete content of all emails sent by Florida constituents, and his responses during his time as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007.

The emails will be published in an ebook Bush plans to release this year, as a guide to explaining how his time in office went.

The Jeb Emails database, which allows anyone to read emails through a calendar link, although they can no longer download the Outlook files
The Jeb Emails database, which allows anyone to read emails through a calendar link, although they can no longer download the Outlook filesJebBushEmails.com

"In the spirit of transparency, I am posting the emails of my governorship here. Some are funny; some are serious; some I wrote in frustration. But they're all here so you can read them and make up your own mind," Bush writes on his website.

The Verge was the first to spot the potential privacy issue with Bush's noble plan, posting their story at 6:37pm GMT (1:37pm EST) on 10 February.

Emails that the Verge had access to included information about a child with a life-threatening medical condition, which listed the mother's healthcare identification number and social security number, and correspondence between Bush and a Florida Lottery employee who had appealed for reinstatement after being terminated from his job.

Then at 8:53pm GMT (3:53pm EST), Time reporter Zeke Miller tweeted that he had informed Bush about the private information available from the emails in a Q&A session, and Bush said that his team were looking into removing the information.

Finally at 5am GMT on 11 February, the Verge confirmed that the raw .pst Outlook files had been removed completely from Bush's website.

Nevertheless, the emails are still available to be read in the calendar links on the webpage, although Bush's team seems to have scoured the emails and removed social security numbers and certain potentially sensitive details about Florida government operations.

When IBTimes UK reviewed emails through the years on the calender link at 16:50pm GMT on 11 February, we could still access full email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses, which would be of great interest to spammers and identity thieves.

Many of the personal emails cited above are still available to be viewed, apart from redacted social security numbers, and some of these details should still be considered as an invasion of privacy for many Florida residents, as an individual reading the website could still form a picture of that person and their affairs, in addition to attempting to steal their identity.

"These are official records provided by the Florida Department of State," Jeb Bush's spokesperson Kristy Campbell told Breitbart News, a US conservative news website.

"Emails on the website are currently public record under Florida's broad sunshine laws. Regarding exempt personal identifying information, the Florida Department of State or the Executive of the Governor can share more background on exemptions under Florida Statute."