McBride got a new job with the university’s software development department immediately before the scandal broke. That should have been the end of it for him.
However, McBride’s new superiors received a “warning” from Henri Schasmin, an information security specialist from the rector’s office, just weeks after the scandal.
“I was told to be cautious of McBride. That here’s a man who’s willing to blow the whistle. And that we should not entrust him with secret and sensitive information,” the institute’s director Jaan Penjam said.
He added that it remained unclear what kind of sensitive information should be kept from McBride. It is the first time Penjam had such a conversation as no warnings have accompanied other employees.
A complaint with the inspectorate
The head of the software development institute does not plan to make a fuss over the incident or treat McBride differently. Penjam only said he would like to believe the IT security specialist came to warn him out of his own stupidity as opposed to being ordered to.
The covert attempt at influencing decisions left the institute baffled. Several employees sent multiple emails to the rector’s office and Schasmin, asking for the reason behind such warnings.
They only received bureaucratic and illegible replies, with a carbon copy sent to the university’s lawyer.
After fruitless correspondence that lasted for weeks, an explanation finally manifested.
The rector’s office wrote that TalTech has notified the Estonian Data Protection Inspectorate (AKI) of the information leak “incident” at its Ragnar Nurkse institute.
“TalTech filed a complaint concerning unauthorized publication of personal data on September 24,” head of PR for AKI Signe Heiberg confirms. However, the spokesperson could not reveal what the complaint concerned.
Heiberg emphasizes that the agency has not instructed the university to warn McBride’s superiors and has nothing to do with this latest incident.
Rather, it is McBride who has reason to turn to AKI over unauthorized publication of his personal information.
TalTech’s website reveals a so-called timeline of the Nurkse scandal that displayed McBride’s personal phone number for some time. While the number was removed from the timeline following complaints, Rector Jaak Aaviksoo’s slide presentation concerning the researcher blowing the whistle that displays McBride’s Estonian and US phone numbers can still be found on the university’s website. TalTech has not asked the research fellow for permission to share his number with the entire world.
Postimees asked the university’s press service why McBride has been subjected to this kind of special treatment but only received a confusing letter that fails to answer questions. The latter merely states that Schasmin is tasked with counseling head of units. Rector Aaviksoo could not be reached over the phone.