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The Brief: Dec. 29, 2015

Just in time for the first contests of the 2016 presidential race comes word that voter registration data for nearly 200 million Americans has been left exposed on the Internet.

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The Big Conversation

Just in time for the first contests of the 2016 presidential race comes word that voter registration data for 191 million Americans has been left exposed on the Internet.

An Austin-based security researcher told Politico that the information was left unsecured "by a misconfigured server owned by an unidentified data aggregator."

“It’s still open to the Internet. Anyone in the entire world with no authentication can access this thing,” said Chris Vickery.

The head of a campaign software vendor that might be the source of some of the exposed voter information told Politico that the information appeared to consist of already publicly available information.

That might not be of too much comfort to voters, though. Craig Spiezle, executive director of the Online Trust Alliance, told Politico that voters consider information like addresses, party affiliation and voting history to be private.

Trib Must Reads

Top 10 Texas Tribune Events Moments of 2015, by Evan Smith — Check out the top 10 news-making Tribune events of 2015 with these snippets from elected officials and thought leaders. They offer a snapshot of the year’s hot topics: guns, local control, the presidential race and college sports.

Texas Targets EPA Smog Rule in Latest Suit, by Jim Malewitz — Texas is suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency again. This time, the state is targeting tightened standards on ground-level ozone — President Obama’s effort to cut down on smog that chokes the nation’s skies.

Spokesman: Wayne Christian Suspending Railroad Commission Bid, by Jim Malewitz — Wayne Christian is suspending his bid for an open seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, but he is not terminating his campaign altogether, a spokesman said Monday.

The Day Ahead

•    Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is in the West Texas town of Cisco for a fundraising dinner followed by a rally this evening.

Elsewhere

'Affluenza' teen Ethan Couch detained in Mexico, CNN

Houston-area Muslim leaders worry about backlash, Houston Chronicle

Dallas-area businesses wrestle with open-carry handgun decision, The Dallas Morning News

Uber, Lyft support ballot initiative on Austin’s ride-hailing rules, Austin American-Statesman

Abengoa to close Austin office, move employees to San Antonio, San Antonio Express-News

Oil rout sours next year's outlook for Texas factories, Houston Chronicle

Dallas-area lawmakers pledge vigilance on Lewisville Lake Dam, The Dallas Morning News

Texas is the biggest prize for the March 1 Super Tuesday primaries, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Iowa voters have given up on ethanol; presidential candidates are following suit, Los Angeles Times

Ted Cruz: Republicans Love Him in Iowa, Loathe Him in D.C., Wall Street Journal

Rep. Dawnna Dukes plans to file late campaign finance report soon, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

“A lot of people are kind of nervous about buying a car anyway.”

Ronnie Robertson, general manager at Dallas-area Rusty Wallis Honda, on the dealership's decision not to allow open carry of handguns

News From Home

•    Take a look back at The Texas Tribune's five-part Undrinkable series, which revealed how border communities lack reliable, clean water despite a multibillion-dollar effort that has spanned decades.

•    We couldn't think of a better gift for you, our generous readers, than our ambitious coverage plans for 2016. Hear from beat reporters, editors, developers, producers and the boss himself on what we've got in store for the coming year.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A conversation with state Reps. Celia Israel, Eddie Rodriguez and Paul Workman on Jan. 14 at St. Edward's University in Austin

•    A Symposium on Urban Public Education on Jan. 22 at the University of Texas at El Paso

•    The Texas Tribune's second Texas-centric Trivia Night on Jan. 31 at The Highball in Austin

•    The Ticket: A Live Recording and Democratic Primary Debate Watch Party on Feb. 11 at KUT Public Media Studios in Austin

•    A conversation with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Jose Manuel Lozano on Feb. 25 at Texas A&M University-Kingsville

•    A Symposium on Transportation on March 29 at Texas A&M University in College Station

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