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Saturday, July 07, 2007


Michael Tiemann has a great article in, “Before you activate your iPhone, read this!” that re-emphasizes the need for a law prohibiting private business to ask consumers for Social Security numbers. It may sometime be necessary in the financial or medical communities, and for critical security checks, but should never be used in a business transaction. Apple and AT&T are demanding it to activate the new iPhones; 525,000 were purchased in the initial offering. Tiemann is concerned about the secretive nature of the way Apple conducts business, but he is downright alarmed over AT&T’s possession of his wife’s personal data, which they will get to activate her iPhone. He cites the class-action lawsuit against AT&T for allowing the National Security Administration (NSA) “unchecked backdoor access” to its communications network and record database. There is also testimony from the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) group before the Special Joint Subcommittee Studying State and Commercial Use of Social Security Numbers for Transactional Identification. They recommended against any national standard for personal identification, with or without the Social Security number, where people would be linked to their private information. As late as June of this year, the FTC told the US House Committee on Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Social Security, that government and business should not collect the SSN unless absolutely necessary. Here’s a solution to this whole mess from a local weekly, Phoenix newspaper, The Tatum Times’ “Ask Mr. Modem column.” This guy says most people settle for the last four digits of whatever ID number they ask for, and, if they don’t, and it’s your SSN, just rattle off the first six digits that come to mind. Why didn’t I think of that?

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