Your Right to Privacy: A Basic Guide to Legal Rights in an Information Society

By Evan Hendricks; Trudy Hayden et al. | Go to book overview

VI
Social Security Numbers

Is the Social Security number a universal identifier?

Not technically, but the Social Security number (SSN) is so widely used as an identifier by both government and private agencies that many people consider it to be a de facto national identifier. To be a true universal identifier, a label would have to be unique to each person: no more than one person would have a given number, and no person would have more than one number. A person would carry the same number throughout his life, and it would not be reused after his death. It would contain internal check features so that errors in transcription or communication could be detected easily. The SSN does not meet these criteria. Many people have more than one number. Some numbers have been issued to or used by more than one person. The SSN does not contain any internal check features, and it can be deliberately falsified or inadvertently misreported.1 But these technical deficiencies have not prevented widespread reliance on the SSN for authentication and identification purposes. The number is popularly accepted and treated as a universal identifier.

Why is a universal identifier a threat to the right of privacy?

The use of a common label to identify the records of individuals in many separate record systems makes it easier, cheaper, and therefore more practical to exchange, compare, and combine information among those various systems. This, in turn, makes it easier for government agencies and private organizations to trace any individual from cradle to grave and thus encloses each person ever more tightly in a "record prison," unable to escape the past or protect any aspect of his or her life from scrutiny. It must be emphasized that the absence of a universal identifier will not by itself prevent the pooling and linking of records, particularly with today's sophisticated computer technology, nor does the use of a universal identifier by itself cause record linking. The availability of

-61-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Your Right to Privacy: A Basic Guide to Legal Rights in an Information Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 186

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.