[LINK] Number One Privacy Debacle

Jan Whitaker jwhit at melbpc.org.au
Sat Oct 21 11:29:07 AEST 2006

At 11:04 AM 21/10/2006, Howard Lowndes wrote:
>  It is
>>virtually impossible to get financial services or anything that involves
>>being billed for service without supplying it.
>totally unacceptable.

Not really if you understand the relationships of financial info to 
the ss#. It may not have been this way in its beginnings, but in my 
lifetime (I got my card when I started working at 15 and have it 
indelibly memorised!), the number connects into the tax system. So if 
you have financial dealings - employment, banking where dividends are 
earned, investments, real estate, etc - then the ss# is the way the 
government makes sure you get credit in your retirement pension from 
the govt (social security payment upon retirement), are reporting all 
your income and capital property to the tax department, and YOU are 
the person with the benefit access and contribution requirement.

The use of ss# for non-financial things, the most common being the 
student ID, was stopped when I was working in the community college 
system back in the 80s. This may have changed back, but I would be 
surprised. We had to make available a unique ID option for those who 
did not have a ss# or did not want to use it for activities 
associated with us. It wouldn't surprise me if these options exist 
for the water hookup if the person just asked.

Likewise, there was a change in practice of posting exam results 
outside professor's doors. In my uni days, the roster and marks went 
up with ss# and usually alphabetically but without the names. But 
then someone figured out that if the roster was gotten through some 
other means and then matched after, that the ss# could easily be 
matched back to a person.  I think the change was to not post results 
at all. I was quite surprised when I came here and found out that 
secondary school results and uni offers were/ARE published in the 
newspaper!! I still don't get that as an acceptable practice re 
public exposure.


Jan Whitaker
JLWhitaker Associates, Melbourne Victoria
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com
personal: http://www.janwhitaker.com/personal/
commentary: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/

'Seed planting is often the most important step. Without the seed, 
there is no plant.' - JW, April 2005
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