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Re: Social Security Numbers

As the discussion on this seems to have gone international, I'll add a few
words about the use of PINs in Israel. 

Every citizen and permanent resident in Israel is issued a PIN by the
Ministry of Interior. This number is intended not only for administrative
purposes, but for all general purposes where positive identification of
the individual is necessary. It is considered public information, in a
sense, as anyone in Israel is entitled under law to receive the PIN (as
well as name and address)  of anyone else registered in the official
population registry. 

It is permitted to store identified information in an electronic database,
subject to restrictions set out in Israel's Privacy Protection Law. One of
these restrictions is that the information may be used only for the
purpose for which it was collected. Under certain circumstances, such a
database must also be registered. 

It is important to note that personal information might be identifiable by
any means or combination of them: name, address, PIN etc.... In fact,
sometimes a combination of what may seem to be innocuous unidentified
information might lead to the identification of an individual (a problem
that concerns statistical bureaus when publishing anonymous data sets).
The Israeli law attaches no importance to the means by which personal
information may be associated with an specific individual. It simply
provides that once such identified information is collected in an
electronic database for a particular purpose, that it may not be used for
any other purpose without prior consent of the individuals involved. 

One exception to the above rule is that government offices are allowed to
transfer identified information to other government offices when necessary
in fulfilling legitimate government duties, and only if there are no
specific statutory restrictions on such (such as statistical
confidentiality under the Statistics Ordinance). 


Brian Negin, Legal Advisor
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics
Tel: 972-2-6553200  Fax: 972-2-6553543
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