Virginia Won't Stop Publishing People's Social Security Numbers; But Will Fine You For Republishing Them

from the backwards-thinking dept

Apparently, the state of Virginia has been publishing various government documents on its websites that reveal the social security numbers of various residents. Betty "BJ" Ostergren thought this was a problem -- and when the state wouldn't listen to her, she decided to try to get more attention by republishing those documents on her own website. Basically, in an effort to show why it's wrong for Virginia to post people's SSNs, she's reposting them.

So how did the state of Virginia respond? Did it stop posting documents that exposed SSNs? Not at all. Instead, it passed a new law that let it continue to publish documents exposing SSNs, but would fine anyone like Ostergren who reposted that info on their own websites. In other words, instead of fixing the problem, it simply decided to fine the woman who helped highlight the problem. The ACLU and Ostergren are now suing the state to protest this new law. While I don't necessarily agree with Ostergren for republishing the SSNs exposed by the state, it does seem pretty ridiculous for the state to go after her, rather than to stop exposing SSNs.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    eze, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 11:31am

    my first comment

    finally a first comment by me

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    TriZz, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 11:47am

    Virginia

    I live in Virginia (like 10 miles outside of DC) and this is sucky news. I usually am quite proud of my little state here...but this is bad.

    PS: Eze is a douchebag.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 11:59am

    Been there...

    When I lived in Newport News Virginia everyone
    wanted my SSN. The utilities wanted it before
    they turned anything on, cable TV company
    wanted it.

    Even the Radio Shack Store wanted it for their
    mailing list (wny I don't know, when asked they
    couldn't provide a coherent explaination.) When
    I refused to surrender my SSN they acted as if I
    was the only person who had ever objected.

    YOUR PAPERS, PLEASE! If you have done nothing
    wrong, you have nothing to hide! Virginia is for
    lovers... unless you love privacy or liberty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 12:05pm

    Do as I say, not as I do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Pennsylvanian, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Virginia

    First TriZz I can't see how you could possibly perceive your state as little and being that you live 10 miles outside of DC I can't imagine what you'd possibly be 'quite proud of'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    will sue Virginia?, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 12:16pm

    Wonder if the FEDs

    I wonder what Virginia would do if you lived out of state or out of country? Hard to sue someone running a blog in outer Mongolia.

    That smarmy comment aside, I wonder if Virginia may be running afoul of HIPAA? I did a ERP implementation project for the UT Health Science Center Texas and we had to secure any system that referenced SSN's due to HIPPA regulatory requirements, regardless if the system contained health information.

    There is also H.R. 2971, the Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2004: http://www.ssa.gov/legislation/legis_bulletin_080504.html

    I'm not certain if that passed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 12:16pm

    Isn't publishing people's SSN's illegal? Seems there would be some sort of identity fraud liability there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Mr. Nosuch, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 12:35pm

    A new state motto is in order!

    May I propose "Viginia is for Identity Thieves" as the new state motto?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Jason (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 12:49pm

    Stupid

    I'd love to see the State of Virginia try and cite me if I ever decided to re-publish their publicly available information on a web server here in California.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 1:07pm

    There is some irony in the obligatory pedantic correction, "Virginia isn't a state, it is a commonwealth."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 1:48pm

    maybe for them...but not for me

    As it applies to Virginians, they can be a commonwelt all they want. As it applies to a guy in CA, they're just another state.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    dh, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:18pm

    Re: A new state motto is in order!

    Sad, Funny, True!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    R. H., Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Been there...

    RadioShack asked for your SSN? I've had them ask for my Zip Code for a survey of how far people drove to get there but that's in Michigan. I never give my SSN out unless I'm applying for credit or filling out a government form.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:23pm

    Re:

    That was incredibly clever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Hoeppner, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:23pm

    Ex post factos... I find it hard to believe that the state fined her.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:56pm

    do as big brother says, not as big brother does

    come on this america? very basic prinicple

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    who cares, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 3:14pm

    Ridiculous! People, wake up!

    I think those who passed that law should get their SSN publushed. I am sure they won't mind that at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 4:37pm

    I'm not surprised. I moved to Virginia about 5 years ago from NC, and this state has some of the DUMBEST, LAZIEST people I have ever seen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    citizen greyface, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 4:58pm

    Re: dumb gov

    There is a reason why cousins should not marry cousins and have children.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    malfunct, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 2:47pm

    The next test

    So in order to no "repost" someone needs to add a frame to thier website that displays the state website untouched. I hate that technology confuses otherwise resonably intelligent people so much that they pass really dumb laws as a result.

    That said if we quit using the SSN as an ID, which is something that people who fought against the laws early on were "promised" would not happen, then it wouldn't matter if the numbers got posted near as much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Carolinian, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 9:47pm

    I've lived in NC and VA all my life. If you want a flavor of government in both states, the instance you point out is pretty much a bellwether. Stupidity in spades.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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