Kintner’s cybersex scandal spurs new technology guidelines for state senators, staff

Kintner’s cybersex scandal spurs new technology guidelines for state senators, staff
Photo Courtesy: World-Herald News Service

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Legislature has a new technology use policy, developed after Sen. Bill Kintner’s cybersex scandal and other incidents.

The Legislature’s Executive Board on Thursday unanimously approved a policy that, among other things, prohibits senators and their staff from posting information on personal, campaign and commercial social media websites through the state’s secure network or state equipment.

Omaha Sen. Bob Krist, chairman of the Executive Board, said the incident involving Kintner was the latest to spur the need for technology guidelines, though there have been others.

They include the use of a state copy machine to print thousands of campaign-related materials, and the use of a senator’s official legislative website to advocate for a candidate for office, he said.

A cyber hacker linked to child pornography recently attempted to attack the Legislature’s secure website, Krist said. The attack was caught by Legislative IT staff, and the State Patrol is investigating.

Krist said the policy is meant to protect citizens’ investment in state equipment.

“There isn’t a large corporation or small company in this country that isn’t dealing with social media issues, and most of them have clear-cut guidelines that you can be fired for, on moment’s notice,” he said, noting that he doesn’t want a Big Brother system, though the Legislature needed to “start someplace.”

Kintner, of Papillion, engaged in cybersex on his state-issued computer with a woman while in Boston in July 2015. He and the woman conducted a sexually explicit conversation on Skype, which resulted in both engaging in masturbation.

Kintner reported the incident to the State Patrol after the woman tried to extort money from him. The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission in August fined him $1,000 for misusing public resources.

Kintner on Thursday declined to comment, saying he hasn’t had a chance to review the policy. He has refused calls for his resignation, including from Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The State Patrol report on Kintner’s incident pointed out that senators have no password policy and are not required to change their passwords. Senators’ state-issued computers also don’t require access with log-in credentials.

The new policy addresses those concerns by requiring users to take a technology training course and sign a statement acknowledging they’ve taken the course and read the policy. And starting in January, user passwords will be required to be updated annually.

Senators and their staff still can use a senator’s official social media accounts to communicate with constituents about state business. For example, they could use a state-issued computer and the state’s secure network to post about policy to a senator’s public Facebook page.

Meanwhile, personal use of social media websites must be limited to a personal device and the Capitol’s public Internet network. Some minimal personal use of state equipment is permitted, including contacting family members about unexpected schedule changes.

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