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Website Posts Partial SSNs of Politicians in Protest

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  • by Gr33nNight (679837) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:38PM (#6263264)
    This was done after the bill was passed....how could posting the SSN after the fact change anything?
  • Why only partial? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:38PM (#6263266) Journal
    Just post the whole thing. It's not like it matters. Bill Gates' social security number is 539-60-5125. So what?
    • by TomGroves (622890) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:48PM (#6263316) Homepage
      If it doesn't matter, why don't you post yours instead of Gates's?
    • Re:Why only partial? (Score:4, Informative)

      by rattler14 (459782) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:53PM (#6263350)
      Well, it actually does matter. Say you found Bill's first usa visa credit card on the ground. If you call their 1-800 number (written on the back of the card), they ask you for the last 4 digits of the primary card holders social security number for certain transactions. While this method is by no means fullproof (or even that effective at all) it is still a security check point to someones financial data. If one can easily access a person SSN (and thus their zip code, middle name, and various other trivia that could be used as a security check point) then it becomes much more difficult to authenticate financial transactions over the phone using an automated system.

      I know this seems like a very picky example, but I'm sure stuff like this actually happens.
      • No, absolutely not. The last 4 digits of a social security number is not a secure password. Any financial institution which uses it as such does so at their own risk.

        There are way too many people who know my SSN for it to be used as a secure password. Hollywood Video and my physics professor are two examples. As for the last 4 digits of my SSN, let's put it this way. My email address is dipi6457 at rowan.edu.

        • by violent.ed (656912) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:13PM (#6263440)
          Any financial institution which uses it as such does so at their own risk.

          Incorrect, they do it at YOUR risk.
          • No, you are the one who is incorrect. Any charges which are made to my credit card without my permission are not my responsibility, so long as I myself did not negligently provide anyone else with access to my account.
        • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:29PM (#6263493) Homepage
          The root of the problem is that any system relying on keeping your social security number secret is broken. An SSN is an identifier for a person, it is like a name. You don't keep your name secret (Wizard of Earthsea aside) so why should the number be different?

          Not that you'd necessarily want people to be able to find out and disclose your number whenever they felt like it - there are still privacy considerations even with 'useless' information - but if disclosing the number exposes you to fraud then the fault is with the systems that rely on SSN to authenticate (rather than identify) an individual.

          Every cheque you write has your bank account number on it. Disclosing the number doesn't automatically expose you fraud (unless you also supply headed notepaper and do other stupid things). If the banks can do it, why not social security?
          • I don't see the difference between what you're saying and what I'm saying.

            Every cheque you write has your bank account number on it. Disclosing the number doesn't automatically expose you fraud (unless you also supply headed notepaper and do other stupid things).

            Umm, have you ever heard of ACH? The number on the bottom of your check is just as dangerous as your social security number. Dangerous to the banks, that is. Unless you're doing something negligent, you're not responsible.

            If the banks can d

          • You're right, it is the systems that are broken (How else to explain the increasing frequency of identity theft?). The posting of their numbers is not a real big deal even though it's a great PR ploy.
        • Hey man, I agree with you fully. It is NOT a secure password. However, it is a primative security check. Perhaps it won't stop someone from eventually getting to your financial information, but it may give the person who lost their credit card enough time to cancel it. It's not meant to be an impenetrable fortress, but it is suppossed to act as a barrier (though a small one).

          I also agree that way to many people know my SSN, but that's because lot's of institutions require you to put it on every god dam
    • Re:Why only partial? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ChadN (21033)
      If Bill ever collects on Social Security, it might make front page news (well, front Slashdot page news, anyway).
      • What are you implying, that he'll die before he's eligible to collect? Every citizen of the United States of America -- and I assume he is one -- receives Social Security.
    • Post partial -> They know that you have it

      Post whole -> What is the remaining incentive to change anything?

      Tor
    • Re:Why only partial? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Cyclometh (629276) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:42PM (#6263555)
      Actually, in the case of major political figures (which probably does not include California assembly members), actors/actresses and other famous individuals, the government, in particular GSA and the Social Security Administration, have flagged their numbers.

      Having known people who work for the SSA, I've heard stories of having to deal with processing a legitimate information request for a major figure, such as an actor or member of Congress, and having to explain every aspect of the actions taken the next day, because any processing of data using a flagged number triggers an internal review.

      If you try and use that SSN for anything, you'll very quickly be getting a visit from some individuals with their sense of humor surgically removed, and you'll very likely not be seen for a while.
      • by sphealey (2855)

        Having known people who work for the SSA, I've heard stories of having to deal with processing a legitimate information request for a major figure, such as an actor or member of Congress, and having to explain every aspect of the actions taken the next day, because any processing of data using a flagged number triggers an internal review.

        If you try and use that SSN for anything, you'll very quickly be getting a visit from some individuals with their sense of humor surgically removed, and you'll very likely

        • Re:Why only partial? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Cyclometh (629276)
          You have a point, but the fact is that people who are (in)famous are the target of harrassment, stalking, and other attacks more often than the average joe. I can imagine there's a few anti-Microsoft zealots who would love to savage Bill Gates' credit record or file an SSI claim as him, just as an example.

          I think that if I were Bill Gates, I'd be justifiably more concerned about the potential of abuse of my SSA data than I personally am. I certainly am concerned about it, but I'm not subject to the same ki
  • i say... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deadsaijinx* (637410) <animemeken@hotmail.com> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:40PM (#6263271) Homepage
    good for them. This isn't an extorion of a threat, as some claim. As they have stated in their defence, it is a demonstration of the vulnerablity of ones information. Had they released the entire SSN, or threatened to do so, then I would not support them. But as it stands, they have provided a strong demonstration of a need for increased legislation toward the protection of privacy.
    • Glorious (Score:4, Insightful)

      by The Tyro (247333) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:53PM (#6263351)
      The man published the partial SSN's after the vote, so he wasn't trying to extort the legislators to vote for the bill. I'd say the extortion/threatening charges are a bit out of line for this.

      Heheh... what a great poke-in-the-eye to the legislators, and a great demonstration of what the issue was really about.

      No full SSN's were given out, so no harm was really done here... just some angry lawmakers... Let's hope they have the introspection to learn from this jab.

      Bravo.
      • Re:Glorious (Score:5, Interesting)

        by miu (626917) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:29PM (#6263497) Homepage Journal
        Heheh... what a great poke-in-the-eye to the legislators, and a great demonstration of what the issue was really about.

        The problem is that civil servants (such as these politicians) often believe that they are our superiors. So most of them are incapable of realizing that privacy laws are for everyone. Instead they will look at creating a law or applying an existing law in such a way as to protect just themselves. That was exactly the reaction of the civil servants involved in the garbage search incident in Oregon.

        • Just remember that lawmakers believe that "Laws don't apply to Lawmakers".

          Their feeling seems to be that one we elect them they have no responsibility to the people that elected them -- just to the lobbyists that continue to pay them.

          Remember Orrin Hatch only cares about his buddies in the music industry.
  • Trading Card (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jad LaFields (607990) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:40PM (#6263276)
    Gray Davis trading card, "Privacy Series". Mint condition. Best offer.

    I love it when political groups pull off silly stunts to make a point. Politics grows more and more entertaining and less helpful everyday.
  • by 1010011010 (53039) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:42PM (#6263285) Homepage
    Either transparency or secrecy is acceptable -- as long as both the citizenry and the government have the same thing.

    • You're talking about two absolutes here, both of which are unachievable. "Total transparency" means no privacy for the proles, and false fronts for the powerful. Sound familiar? "Total secrecy" means false fronts for everyone, and no recourse when the people justifiably try to find out what the hell is influencing their lives.

      The answer is, as always, in the middle.
    • by clenhart (452716) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:49PM (#6263578) Homepage
      Huh?

      A transparent government is necessary for the people to control it. How else do we evaluate how our "employees" are doing?

      The privacy of individuals is critical to dissent.

      It does not have to be the same.

      It's sad that people are throwing away their freedoms.
  • Valid Point, but.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by johnnick (188363) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:43PM (#6263293)
    Had they done it before the vote, or gone to each Assembly-person and demonstrated the capability before the vote, that would've been legitimate lobbying. This is just petty and serves to make the Assembly-people less likely to listen to this group in the future.

    John
    • by Lord Kano (13027) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:57PM (#6263363) Homepage Journal
      Had they done it before the vote, or gone to each Assembly-person and demonstrated the capability before the vote, that would've been legitimate lobbying. This is just petty and serves to make the Assembly-people less likely to listen to this group in the future.

      I respectfully disagree. This is a perfectly valid way to express dissatisfaction with the decision of these lawmakers.

      "Really assemblyman? This privacy measure isn't needed? Will your position be the same when it's YOUR information instead of ours?"

      I agree 100% with these guys.
    • >

      gone to each Assembly-person

      What do you mean? Something like elected representative to the State Assembly?

      >

      This is just petty and serves to make the Assembly-people less likely to listen to this group in the future.

      Why petty? When you aren't big or rich enough, the Net may be a good way to get one's attention -- assuming your are /.ted or better yet locally publicised, like getting a reference at the regional and local news channels and papers.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      > legitimate lobbying...

      They assembly people are elected and sworn to uphold the public good.

      They failed to do so.

      The entire point of a representative democrocy is that the whole of the population need not be routinely engaged in governmental matters. Your assumption suggests we do, in fact, need to because our "representatives" will not act appropriately (or with even slight common sense) otherwise.

      Again, they failed in doing their jobs.

      I see NO point why they shouldn't pay the price for the igno
  • Whoop deedoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingArthur10 (679328) <.arthur.bogard. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:43PM (#6263297)
    If you really want to find someone's social security number, you can do it a million ways. Every business they work for has it on record, the credit beuru has it, your D/L has it tied in for police. All anyone really has to do is do a credit check on you, claiming to be a possible employer and such. I am not afraid of my SSN being released. Yeah, someone could really screw with my life, but then, I could sue the heck out of whatever company released it. Anything in life either has to have a SSN or a Birth Cirtificate anymore. Why not just implant babies with chips and call it a day? ;-)
    • oh, yeah. sue the company. That's really going to help. probably won't even work. and is it worth the risk of someone fucking with up your life? Most people have enough to do without worrying about people getting their SSN
      • Re:Whoop deedoo (Score:5, Interesting)

        by KingArthur10 (679328) <.arthur.bogard. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:54PM (#6263354)
        Actually, the credit beuru once accidently typed in the wrong SSN of a convicted felon. After that, the man's SSN that they typed in was suddenly not able to find a job or get credit for anything. After at least 10 years in the gutter, one of the people he looked to employment said to him "we don't hire people with your history". The man began inquiring what that must mean and found out that the credit bearu screwed up his account by saying he was a convicted felon. He then sued the bearu for a good 20-50million dollars and is now living on easy street. All I was really trying to say is that if someone wants to get your SSN, all they have to do is act like an employer and do a credit check. There are a million other ways, too. When I worked at CVS, our login code was our SSN. All someone had to do would be watch closely a few times, and wham, they've got it.
    • your D/L has it tied in for police.

      I'm almost positive my Driver's License doesn't have my SSN tied to it. In fact I would presume that to be illegal. The SSN is supposed to be used only for social security. Granted, private industry has abused this and tied to all sorts of things for conveinence, but when the -STATE- government starts demanding it for licensing purposes I'll get worried.

      I honestly can't rember if I had to give my SSN when I got my driver's license. I'm almost positive that I've nev

    • All anyone really has to do is do a credit check on you, claiming to be a possible employer and such.
      Not in California. A potential employer must have signed permission from the prospective employee to run a credit check. The one time the form was included in the employment package I tossed it. I was hired anyway.
  • SB1386 tie in (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eericson (103272) <harlequin@earLAP ... t minus math_god> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:44PM (#6263298) Homepage

    What I find amusing about this situation is that these are the same leglislators (scuse the spelling) that unanimously voted for SB1386 [strongauth.com] when their bank/credit info was compromised, yet don't want to take that last step now to protect everyone's privacy.

    The more time I spend in CA the more I realize our state legislators are like ill trained puppies: They're cute to look at, but occassionally you need to whack them with a magazine to keep them from crapping on the carpet.

    -E2
    • Re:SB1386 tie in (Score:5, Informative)

      by johnnick (188363) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:06PM (#6263400)
      This actually exposes an interesting gap in SB 1386.

      Under SB 1386 (which goes into effect on July 1), any entity covered by the law has a duty to notify California residents âoein the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delayâ when it is known, or reasonably believed, that âoepersonal informationâ stored on the entityâ(TM)s computer systems has been disclosed to unauthorized persons as a result of a security breach. An entity is only exempt from the notification requirement when: (a) the âoepersonal informationâ disclosed was already publicly available through the federal, state, or local governments; (b) the âoepersonal informationâ was stored in an encrypted form; or (c) the unauthorized person would be unable to link the California residentâ(TM)s name with other sensitive data (e.g., Social Security number, credit card number, etc.). Entities that fail to comply with SB 1386 can be sued by individuals whose personal information was disclosed for damages suffered due to the disclosure (i.e., damages resulting from identity theft).

      But, SB 1386 does not cover information legitimately sold, such as the SSN information acquired by the lobbying group. (I'm assuming that they weren't receiving stolen information.)

      John
  • tell me why banks, credit card companies and other corporations lobbied against the legislation?
    • Fear of lawsuit based on this law, they are the ones that are leaking this info like a seive.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This reminds me of that time that reporters in Washington St. decided to rumage through the garbage of all the goverment officials who supported the police in removing garbage as evidence from the outside of suspects homes.

    That didnt end up well for the officials then, sort of a double standard.
  • SSN Hacking (Score:4, Informative)

    by blanktek (177640) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:48PM (#6263322)
    Useful information derived from SSN can be found here [cpsr.org]. You can see everyone was born in CA by the first three numbers. Group numbers can be verified, but isn't the serial numbers the important information?
    • The first three numbers don't represent where you were born, but where you lived when you social security number was assigned.
    • hmm...wth? According to that page, I was born / applied to my SSN in Maryland...I've never been to Maryland.

      I think that info is faulty

      • Re:SSN Hacking (Score:2, Informative)

        According to that page, I was born / applied to my SSN in Maryland...I've never been to Maryland. I think that info is faulty.

        Depends on when you were assigned your card:

        "Prior to 1972, cards were issued in local Social Security offices around the country, and the area number represented the state in which the card was issued. Since 1972, when the SSA began assigning numbers and issuing cards centrally from Baltimore, the area number is assigned based on the zip code in the mailing address provid

  • by FosterKanig (645454)
    The thing that astounds me is that the people who voted no STILL don't get it.
    The tactics do not show how out of control lobbying is a bad thing (even if it is), they show that those in dissent don't have a clue about what information they are allowing to be broadcast.

    I just finished my dinner, so this must be "just desserts!"
  • by konichiwa (216809) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:49PM (#6263329)
    from the sfgate article:

    "We should be free to vote our conscience and not be threatened or harassed if we choose to vote contrary to people who are lobbying for special legislation," said Assemblyman Ed Chavez, D-La Puente, one of the lawmakers whose partial number was published.

    What a crock. I wonder how much money he takes from special interest and lobby groups that pay him to "vote his conscience."

    Politicians = soul merchants
    • Isn't there some way to "fire" legislators? Like a recall vote or something? Maybe legislators should be threatened when they give too much preference to the "monied interests". Especially in CA.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:51PM (#6263343)
    You dont give us privacy and then you demand privacy . Well that doesnt sound like a good *explitive deleted* deal?
    If you dont like having your SSN number spread around the internet then perhaps you should pass legislation to protect everyone (of course instead will end up with legislation that only protects politions and those who have a lot more than $26 to line there pockets).
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:53PM (#6263348) Homepage Journal
    Thousands of people who were born in the same part of the country as me the same year I was have the same first 4 numbers.

    All that can be deduced from that info is an approximate region of birth and possibly age.

    Perhaps these guys should release one extra number per week until they get the privacy laws corrected.

    LK
    • The information is sufficient to allow the people who hold those numbers to realize that they are their own.

      A better combination might have been the first two digits of the first three, one of the digits of the middle two, and two of the digits of the last four. (with placement)

      That combination will not uniquely identify anyone any more than the first five digits would, but would be enough that the holder would bereasonably sure it was his or her own number.

      So if my number were 123-45-6789, disclosing 12
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:54PM (#6263355)
    Here it is (partially) :
    xxx-xx-1337

    And of course, Bill Gates (again, only partially) :
    666-xx-xxxx
  • I was born in Egypt. I picked up my father's geographic location in my SSN.
    • You are correct (Score:3, Informative)

      by DudemanX (44606)
      It only determines where you were registered for the number. I was born in New Jersey, but have a California prefix of 572. We moved out here whan I was about 3.

  • first we are given a number rather than our names, like dogs with tags

    then we are tracked, and can't make a buck without it

    then it is easy to forge, and everybody misuses it

    then it's required for all sorts of services it should have nothing to do with - like why the hell do I need one to get medical insurance

    and finally, worst of all, it is attached to one of the largest, most fraudlent ponzi, pyramid, investment aleged retirement schemes in the history of human existence.

    we would really do better gett
    • first we are given a number rather than our names, like dogs with tags

      Ask your parents, I bet they chose your name before getting your SSN. As for dog tags, they usually bear doggy's name on it.

      then it's required for all sorts of services it should have nothing to do with - like why the hell do I need one to get medical insurance

      Thank your fellow countrymen for lobbying against a national ID card : after all, don't you use your driver's license to write checks too ? Driving cars and writing checks don
  • by Stonent1 (594886) <stonent.stonent@pointclark@net> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:09PM (#6263422) Journal
    He only posted the first 3 digits of Gray Davis's SSN, that's nothing. IIRC that part tells you where you registered. That can be figured out. If you really wanted to worry them, do something like 5x6-x3-x7x0.

    That way they'd have a pretty good idea that you have the info.
  • Semi O/T Rant... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by curunir (98273) * on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:10PM (#6263428) Homepage Journal
    The problem isn't that we need privacy laws to protect user's SSNs...those can be publicly available. The problem is that the SSN has been overloaded by businesses and other organizations.

    A SSN is a number granted to an individual by the government for the purposes of identifying that person to the government. It shouldn't be a means of identifying someone to a credit card company, bank or other institution (my university used SSN as our student ID numbers). If one of these institutions wants to identify me by a number, they can assign me their own damn number.

    What we need is legislation preventing private institutions from assigning extra significance to any government issued piece of identification. Just because SSN is a handy primary key for their db tables doesn't mean that they should be allowed to use it.
    </rant>
    • A SSN is a number granted to an individual by the government for the purposes of identifying that person to the government.
      You almost got it right. You should have said, "A SSN is a number granted by the government for the purposes of identifying that person the the Social Security Administration." By law, the SSN can not be used for any other purpose. Of course, when has a mere law stopped the government or businesses for doing whatever they want?
      • By law, the SSN can not be used for any other purpose.

        You almost got it right. You should have said, "By law, the SSN can not be used for any other purpose by the government." There is absolutely no legislation specifying or controlling what non-governmental orgarnizations do with SSNs. That's why this is such a big mess today.
    • Re:Semi O/T Rant... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sax Maniac (88550)
      The problem is people give them out way too easily. The next time some droid asks you for your SSN to fill out their form for whatever, say "No".

      By the way, your bank does need your SSN because it needs to send tax information to the Feds. But your doctor, dentist, or insurance company certainly do not.

    • Re:Semi O/T Rant... (Score:2, Informative)

      by toxic666 (529648)
      Your point is well taken. In fact, Congress passed the Privacy Act of 1974 in an attempt to address the issue:

      http://www.epic.org/privacy/ssn/testimony_0500. h tm l

      It is up to the US Congress to recognize and restrict the use of the SSN as a Global Identifier, but the financial industry has a vested interest as their data is all keyed to it.

      As far as I am concerned, I think posting public servant's SSN's is extreme, but they have ignored the issue for almost 30 years. Maybe a little civil disobedience i
  • Funniest Thing To Me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabbNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:11PM (#6263431) Homepage
    The only reason not to vote for increased privacy for financial data would be the cost of said legislation to business, government or both. Yet their response is to call for increased lobbying restrictions that presumably will cost the government more money.

    Like most here, I think this is an effective demonstration of the ease with which personal information can be obtained, whether on the Interweb or elsewhere. The mere fact that these legislators are reacting so badly to release of fairly benign personal information is probably an indicator that they made a mistake in their voting. If they truly believed in their position they would have looked at this release and shrugged, or even been amused.

  • by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:11PM (#6263436) Journal

    Good to know they think of others as nothing but consumers and taxpayers. Imagine actually thinking of someone else as a PERSON... THE HORROR!

  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:19PM (#6263455) Homepage Journal
    Social Security numbers were originally intended to be used only by the social security program and were supposed to make record keeping easier. They were never meant to function as an authentication mechanism.

    The problem arose when the mapping between a person's name (or identity) and the SSN was considered confidential information, and a number of government and non government organizations started treating the knowledge of a person's SSN as an authentication mechanism.

    Many companies treat the fact that you know (the last 4 digits of) a social security number combined with some additional information like the last name and street address as proof that you are indeed who the record states you are.

    This is absurd. Either each individual should be assigned a secret id, which when used in conjunction with the SSN proves one's identity, or some other mechanism to verify identity should be developed. As long as the SSN continues to be (ab)used as a supposedly public index into a database, as well as a piece of confidential information, privacy will remain a farce.

    • by lnoble (471291) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:56PM (#6263610)
      You're completely dead on. I hate it whenever employers, financial institutions or ngo/go's ask for it. Before the IRS started using it as an ID your were not required to give it to anyone except the Social Security Agency. Because the IRS started using it, employers and just about every financial institution there is needed to use it as well. 98% of the organizations that I 'need to' give my number to have nothing to do with social security.

      Why doesn't the IRS/money people make their own number, dividing up the risk of the almost inevitable possibility of its theft. This would dramatically reduce the risk of falling victim to social security fraud.

      Some resources:
      SSN/Privacy FAQ's [cpsr.org] (cpsr.org)
      General Privacy info
  • Presume negligence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:20PM (#6263461) Homepage
    The easy way to fix this is to legislate that any person or institution who uses a social security number, or part thereof, for authentication purposes is presumptively negligent. Any person or institution that uses a SSN for identification purposes assumes all risk thereby, including liability to other parties, and cannot disclaim, offset, or shift said liability.

    This allows the use of SSNs as an identifier, but not as an authentication token. Lawyers have a hard problem with that distinction, but they understand negligence.

  • by Simon Lyngshede (623138) <simon@@@spiceweasel...dk> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:27PM (#6263484) Homepage
    I would hate not having my CPR number (Danish Social Security Number). It make identification so much easier, I only wish I could use it for more things.

    I never hear of anyone having their CPR number misused. Try to remember that it's just a easier way of identification and NOT a tracking device inserted up your ass. Your more like to be tracked when you use your VISA card than by having a SSN. I'm sure Wal-Mart knows more about most Americans than the US government does.

    Why are Americans so much more paranoid than other people? Have your government really screwed over that many times? If you can't trust your government you have a problem. Please do something about it.
    • by bucky0 (229117) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:42PM (#6263551)
      The problem is that in the US (I'm not sure how it works where you live) if I have your SSN, I can basically ruin your life. I can open a credit card in your name and run up thousands of dollars of charges with your SSN. 'Identity fraud' as it's called is a serious problem which ruins thousands of people's lives every year. This bill (as I understand it) limits how much the government can throw around your SSN to try and keep it out of thieve's hands.
    • by IvyMike (178408) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @05:47PM (#6263572)

      Why are Americans so much more paranoid than other people? Have your government really screwed over that many times?

      How can you Europeans be so laid back about this, when you've got examples of ethnic cleansing in Germany, Kosovo, Turkey, Macedonia, among others. [columbia.edu]. Don't get me wrong...Americans also have our own checkered past (Slavery, Japanese interment camps, near genocide of Native-Americans, etc.) but at least we're worried about our own ugly past repeating itself.

      • by EJB (9167)
        "We" Europeans are definitely not laid-back about such things. Generally, privacy-protection laws are way stronger in Europe than in the USA.

        Although the government has been trying (and sometimes succeeded) in widening the use of the "social-fiscal number" in Holland, there are laws against using it for purposes other than those explicitly allowed.

        I don't know about Denmark, but I have the feeling that the danish poster doesn't really now much about Europe.

    • I never hear of anyone having their CPR number misused.

      I'm danish too, and I have heard several stories about misuse of CPR numbers. It's actually too easy to misuse, since a lot of people believe that you are who you say you are, if you can give out your CPR. No picture ID required. Terrible, I know, but I have experienced this many times.

      So it's not just the Americans that have a reason to be paranoid.

    • What makes you so naive?

      It's not the government screwing you over, it's your fellow criminal who is interested in identity theft [consumer.gov].

      If your single ID is used for everything from credit card applications, bank statements, medical records, then a person who finds your ID can access all of them.

      Think it's a joke? A good friend of mine's mailbox was broken into many times, when he lived in an apartment, where they stole credit card pre-approved applications and redirected them to a different address. If th

    • It wasn't our government necessarily that made us paranoid about privacy. It was originally the British who treated us colonies poorly. It was out of that political environment that we wrote up all the protections against the government in our Constitution, as well as the separation of powers. Every kid in the US gets taught the bill of rights and why they're all important, so most (outside of ashcroft) maintain that spirit of suspicion toward the government. That being said, our government has since do
    • Identity theft (Score:2, Insightful)

      by larryleung (664571)
      Identity theft is becoming more of a problem here since there is so little protection. Theives just have to know your SSN, address, ect and soon they're using your credit cards and taking money from your bank account.

      Americans should be paranoid. Most aren't. That is the problem.
    • by ctr2sprt (574731) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @07:42PM (#6264055)
      We have a fundamentally different view of governments. Americans view government as a necessary evil. The only real difference of opinion among us is how much is actually necessary. I don't think there's an American alive that likes our government, trusts it to do the right thing, or feels it should be as big as it is. This isn't a new thing, either; the Founders built our government feeling exactly the same way.

      You think of government as a way of helping people. We think of government as a way of taking away people's rights. Obviously we want some rights to be restricted - like the right to kill someone and take his stuff - so we suffer ourselves to be goverened. But we all firmly believe that smaller governments are intrinsically better than large ones.

      It's also a factor that, in a strange way, most Europeans are more jaded about politics than Americans. Oh, we think our politicians are corrupt liars too, but we have hope that they can change. It seems like most Europeans have just accepted that their representatives are crooks and have given up on actual democracy. Well, we're nearing that point, so perhaps we're not so different after all.

  • All it seems to have done is to start the process of getting "special" laws enacted. I appears this will get "special" legislation passed restricting free speech especially where CA legislators are concerned.
  • I appreciate the irony in this story. And there is a pat of me that believes that those involved got their "just desserts".

    On the other hand, I have to ask was this right. Doesn't this undercut the position that people have privacy rights, and no matter how much we may not want to respect them, we will. I am, in a sense, reminded of Voltaire's statement: "I disagree with your believe, but I will defed to your death the right to hold it."

    I also question the effectiveness of this tactic. Pulling and showing confidential information in a private setting or in the context of a public hearing (for example pulling together a detailed dosier, handing it to a legislators, and saying, "Do you think I should have this information? Well, we don't either, that is why we want this law passed.") to specific legislators. Frankly, this is about as helpful and effective as my making the basktball team pee blue in high school.

    To me, this once again demonstrates that we geeks in general don't know how to work the system. We disparage thhose that do know how to use it - much as we were diparaged as "geeks" in High School by the jocks - and then wonder why we fail. We could stand to learn a little bit about how to influence the world.

  • by mnemonic_ (164550)
    Do the ends justify the means?
  • Cowboy Neal: Now there's an effective way of showing the problems of the status quo.

    Michael: Are you being sarcastic, dude?

    Cowboy Neal: I don't even know anymore.

    -

  • Big Deal (Score:2, Informative)

    by smkndrkn (3654)
    The first three digits of a SSN tell you in which state a person was born. THe first three digits of mine are 001 which tells you I was born in New Hampshire. Thats like saying:

    "We just posted the partial addresses of all lawmakers in protest"

    George Bush Washington DC
    Howard Dean Vermont

    Just post the whole thing. How is this news? I agree with their stance but they should either be forceful or do nothing at all.
  • Ok,

    To really tick them off, we need irritated Californian number 2 to buy the same SSNs and post the next three digits.

    Then we need irritated Californian number 3 to buy the same SSNs and post the last two digits.

    That way all the digits get posted but not a single person has posted the full set.

    Posting the full set on the internet apparently is a crime in California.

    Better yet, have persons two and three be out-of-staters, anybody in Maryland up for it?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Burns: Social security number? "000-00-002"... Damn Roosevelt!

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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