ACLU: Don't Post Social Security numbers.(METROPOLITAN)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 3, 2002 | Go to article overview

ACLU: Don't Post Social Security numbers.(METROPOLITAN)


Byline: Mary Shaffrey, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Officials for the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union are telling state and local officials to stop posting Social Security numbers on the Internet.

"We will continue to push the General Assembly to take some action, but if all else fails, we will take a close look at whether the issue can be litigated," Kent Willis, executive director of the Virginia ACLU, said yesterday.

The ACLU is targeting King George County, where Clerk of the Court Vic Mason has posted residents' Social Security numbers and signatures on the county Web site (www.king-george.va.us). The sensitive information appears under the land records section and was posted to update all of the county's files electronically.

The Washington Times last month reported that King George officials were posting the information on the Internet. Virginia lawmakers said they will consider legislation to stop the practice.

"Exposing Social Security numbers to the public through the Internet drastically increases the chances of identity theft that could have ruinous results for the owner of the number. At the same time, the posting of the numbers serves no governmental or public purpose," Mr. Willis told Mr. Mason in a letter Tuesday.

Mr. Mason said he appreciates the concern the ACLU and others have expressed about the Social Security numbers, but said he has limited resources and cannot post the files without Social Security numbers unless additional funding is provided.

"I don't know how we are supposed to remove the Social Security numbers. We have a small staff and with the budget cuts we are now facing, there is just no way we can take [the numbers] off," he said.

"If the ACLU wants to get me a grant, I would be happy to hire someone to remove the numbers."

A 1998 state law mandates that clerks charge a $3 technology fee for updating databases when records are filed. …

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