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Re: Social Security Numbers

Forwarded message:
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 15:37:37 -0500


The use of personal information in the way described is not illegal in the
United States. 

In the European Union, however, the story is different.  In the UK, there
is a Data Protection Act which requires entities collecting data to use an
informed consent process if they collect personal information (which would
include an identity number or social security number).  And the EU passed
a Data Protection Directive which requires registration by entities
collecting this sort of information. 

David Mirchin
Vice President & General Counsel
SilverPlatter Information, Inc.

Forwarded message:
From: Jim Horning <>
Subject: RE: Social Security Numbers and User Authentication
Date: Mon, 03 Nov 97 19:42:00 P

Finally a question on this list to which I know the answer!  :-)
Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, such use of Social Security
numbers is not illegal; it is merely unwise.  The widespread use of SSNs
for other than the original purpose has greatly contributed to loss of
privacy and to identity theft and similar frauds.

This is a topic that crops up on both the Privacy Forum Digest, moderated
by Lauren Weinstein (, archived at, and RISKS Digest, moderated by Peter
Neumann (, archived at and
I highly recommend both sources of information.

Jim Horning
Director, Strategic Technologies and Architectural Research Laboratory
InterTrust Technologies Corporation
460 Oakmead Parkway
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

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