Sunday, September 26, 2004

Breaking the Social Security Number habit

About a week ago I blogged about the use of social security numbers as student IDs at US Universities (see Article: Half of US universities use SSN as student identifier, leaving students vulnerable to ID theft). From Penn State Live, it is reported that Penn State University is in the process of kicking the SSN habit by moving over to a new student ID numbering system:

Faculty and staff preparation key to successful for SSN changeover:

"These days, the importance of safeguarding personal data is a hot topic of conversation not only at Penn State, but also at many other institutions including the federal government. In July, the House Committee on Ways and Means approved the Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act, a bill designed to put further restrictions on the use and display of Social Security numbers (SSNs) in an effort to better protect identities. Although this bill is not yet law, it signifies that the prevention of identity theft has become a national concern.

Recognizing that concern, Penn State is just three months away from adopting a new Penn State ID number (PSU ID) in place of SSNs as the primary identifier of students, faculty and staff. 'We're looking to protect private information from unintentional exposure and intentional identity theft,' said David Lindstrom, chief privacy officer at the University. 'The less we use, display and make available private information, the better we control the risk.'

Since SSNs are a potential target for would-be identity thieves, Penn State recently created a new University policy to protect the privacy and confidentiality of an individual's SSN. Policy AD19, which will govern the future use of SSNs, takes effect Jan. 1, 2005, when the new PSU ID is adopted. It has been published now to give University offices time to comply with its provisions...."

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