||Oracle Tips by Burleson
Chapter 1 -
The Illusion of Anonymity
Sources of Personal Information
Many people have been asked to sign a petition
for one thing or another. This is an area where one must be careful
about what personal information is provided. If a petition form
includes a space for entering a social security number, choosing not
to enter it may be the wisest course of action. If the information
is lost or stolen, it could be misused. Including a social security
number should be optional and should not affect whether the
signature is counted in support of the petition.
A social security number is a vital piece of
personal information. It is used by the IRS, employers, banks and
insurance companies. Unauthorized access to a social security
number can lead to numerous problems, some of which may be serious.
In Section 7 of the Overview of the Privacy Act
of 1974, 2004 Edition, found at 5 U.S.C. § 552a Disclosure of Social
Security Number, provides that:
"It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or
Local government agency to deny to any individual any right,
benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual's
refusal to disclose his social security account number." Sec.
However, there are exceptions to this rule.
Most notably, any other federal statute requiring disclosure of the
social security number supersedes this statute. In spite of this,
the act makes it clear that social security numbers are intended for
specialized purposes related to government services and are not to
be given out lightly.
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