Saturday, November 17, 2007

SSN: False Sense of Security

New York Governor has been in the news speaking out on issuing Driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. People think this is outrageous and that only those with Social Security Numbers should be allowed a drivers license.

The Governor pointed out that these illegal currently drive undocumented and that by allowing them to a license, they would at least know who they are. My question is how does a social security number prove who you are? Does it have your photo on it? How about your date of birth? It does not even have your address. So the question is what does a social security number actually prove?

The state merely compares the name of the potential driver and SSN to the Social Security Administrations database. If the name matches the SSN, then it is good. Is this any different than thieves posing as someone else? Identity thieves use your name, date of birth, SSN and more to steal from you.

I am against using the SSN for anything but Social Security. It simply is an unsecure number. The National ID Act is a false sense of security.


At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The easiest thing is not to try to invent a wheel again but to copy the best available solution. This has been done by many nations to one degree or another.

Swedes for thirty years already use a personnal number similar to ssn, and has to carry an ID card with picture, magnetic strip, bar code, anticopy information and biometric data and this number. To get any credit card purchase one has to use the card. A retail person can swipe its magnetic strip or read a bar code if suspicious. When stolen or counterfited, an automated police call will result.
Works well and causes no problem when access to the personal info is limited and recorded, and access records sent to the owner, similar to credit report in here.
However businesses are not allowed to profit from acceess to personal information, like credit agency do here.


At 2:14 PM, Blogger William Larsen said...

Nick, thanks for you comment. I did some research on the Sweedish ID card and it is impressive. I would like to see a separation of government ID from the private sector. The Sweedish ID does not do this.

Pros and Cons of a National ID Card
Advantages of a National ID Card
If every American was forced to carry an ID card, when demanded by a police officer an individual must produce a card. If that individual cannot show the card this leaves the vague possibility that the individual is a terrorist or more likely an illegal alien.

To alleviate the very time-consuming waiting period to board aircraft, Federal employees will be able to quickly verify your identity, thus virtually eliminating this cumbersome process.

India implemented a National ID Card but it is only used for voter registration and no other function.

When making a purchase either via a check or credit card, the ID card can be demanded by the seller hopefully reducing fraud.

Many government agencies and some larger corporations already use a “smart card” technology for accessibility to facilities, by simply waving the card nearby a scanner.

Disadvantages of a National ID Card
The card is perceived to remove more of the citizenry’s civil rights.

There is an underlying fear that the card will be used against the individual, increasing the power of the authorities.

The card creates an uncomfortable sense it is in some way a hostile symbol.

As an extreme thought, there is concern that a national ID card is the evil device foretold in the book of Revelations (the Mark of the Beast).

There is a fear that people will be reduced to simply numbers.

How many laws must be passed to force the citizenry to acknowledge, use and respect the card?

We don’t need a another card for most Americans already have a photo ID driver’s license.

A card or numbering system may lead to a situation where government policy becomes “technology driven” and will occur increasingly through the will of bureaucrats, rather than through law or public process.

There are practical and administrative problems that will arise from lost, stolen or damaged cards (estimated at up to several hundred thousand cards per year)

Various estimates place the cost of implementing the cards from between $4 billion and $30 billion, and another $3-6 billion to operate the system per year.

Concerns over the potential abuse of ID cards by authorities are supported by the experience of countries that have issued such cards. Complaints of harassment, discrimination and denial of service are quite common in some countries. Most Americans are well acquainted with the Soviet Union’s internal passport system used for control and surveillance of the population.

The system may strongly encourage lucrative fraud. Just imagine the possibilities for fraud as with the well-documented history of “green card” fraud for illegal aliens if the card is not connected to a national identification database.

Most states already have well-entrenched identification systems via driver’s licenses. Most of us have become comfortable carrying a driver’s license over the many years that carrying a license became law. But that mushroomed into not only must you have a valid driver’s license in the state of New Jersey, you must also show the license, your vehicle registration and proof of insurance if stopped by a cop. Now get this one – if you don’t have all three, you can be assessed a hefty fine.

Opponents fear that a modern national ID system would require Americans to obtain government permission to travel, work, rent or buy housing, obtain medical care, use financial services and make many purchases.

The official figure for the Australia card was $820 million over seven years. The originally estimated cost of the proposed ID card failed to take into account such factors as training costs, administrative supervision, staff turnover, holiday and sick leave, compliance costs, and overseas issue of cards. Other costs that are seldom factored into the final figure (as was the case in Australia) are the cost of fraud, an underestimate of the cost of issuing and maintaining cards, and the cost to the private sector.

Many experts doubt that the card will thwart terrorism in any way.

Finally, all we need do is look at the history of the Social Security card. It’s original purpose has been subverted where today your Social Security Number is used by all major credit card companies, as well as medical institutions, as the tracking device for your history.


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