Your SSN and tax dollars hard at work!

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by DC_DEEP, Jun 20, 2006.

  1. DC_DEEP

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    Sorry to have such a long quote here, but I know many of you will not follow the link to read it. This is copied directly from the Washinton Post website, in its entirety. I have bolded, underlined, or italicized a few phrases for emphasis, and footnoted three for clarification. Please read the whole thing. It's frightening, and it's patently in violation of the Privacy Act, and once Virginia rapes this one through the system, you WILL be next.

    PRIVACY ISSUES
    Police to Receive Student Data for Checks Against Offender List
    By Michael D. Shear and Rosalind S. Helderman
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Tuesday, June 20, 2006; Page B04

    RICHMOND, June 19 -- Virginia's public and private colleges and universities soon will be required to submit the names and Social Security numbers of tens of thousands of students they accept each year to state police for cross-checking against sexual offender registries.

    The little-noticed but groundbreaking law is raising concerns among privacy experts about giving police access to a vast new database of student information. They say the data could be stored permanently on hard drives and mishandled, stolen or used for unrelated homeland security or law enforcement purposes.

    Passed this year as part of a crackdown on sex crimes and signed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), the law also requires Department of Motor Vehicles officials to turn over personal information to police any time a Virginian applies for a license or change of address. It goes into effect July 1.

    State police officials say they do not plan to retain the student data for long periods, but the provisions will give law enforcement authorities yearly access to information on tens of thousands of students that they must now request on a case-by-case basis when a crime is committed.

    The Virginia law skirts federal prohibitions on disseminating student information by requiring colleges to turn over data after students have been accepted but before they have picked a school and enrolled. Advocates said it will help police track the whereabouts of those who have committed sex crimes and alert college authorities to the presence of such people among students.

    "I've got two kids in college right now," said Kenneth W. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), the bill's chief sponsor in the state Senate. "You're going to have a . . . hard time explaining to me why my daughter is living next door to a sexual offender. My guess is every parent out there would have the same expectation that I do."

    The bill's provisions represent the latest attempt by authorities nationwide to use modern data collection techniques to foil criminal behavior. In 2002, for example, the *Patriot Act required banks to monitor transactions by their customers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    State DMVs have long shared driver data with tax officials and routinely allow police to make requests for individual driver data. Officials said the new law is one of the few times that personal identification information automatically will be turned over to law enforcement.

    Critics of the law say the information about student applicants from Virginia and across the nation is at risk. In May, a laptop containing the Social Security numbers of as many as 2.2 million veterans, including 80 percent of the nation's active-duty forces, was stolen from a Maryland home.
    (continued in next post due to post length restriction...)
     
  2. DC_DEEP

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    (continued from above)
    "It blows the privacy standards away," said Michael Froomkin, a law professor and privacy specialist at the University of Miami. "People ought to be concerned because you never know where your data is going to end up."

    Froomkin and others noted that tracking sexual offenders is an important goal. But they said it can be done without casting such a wide net for information. And they questioned whether the information would someday end up being mined for other purposes.

    "This is basically providing personal information to the state police for the purpose of conducting a background check on thousands of innocent students with no indication of any wrongdoing on their part," said David Sobel, a D.C. lawyer who specializes in privacy law.

    Col. W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said the department has no intention of keeping information about students unless an applicant appears on the sexual offender registry. In Virginia, the registry contains about 13,000 names of those convicted of such crimes as statutory rape and child sex abuse.
    Authorities use the registry and a similar national one to track the movements of such felons who have served their time and moved back into society.

    **"Essentially, this information comes to us. We bounce it against the sex offender registry. If we don't get a hit, we don't keep the information," Flaherty said.
    Not a single lawmaker in Virginia voted against House Bill 984, primarily designed to stiffen the penalties for sex crimes and add convicted nonviolent offenders to the publicly available registry. Some said they did not recall discussion about the provisions related to information sharing.

    "That should have been more closely scrutinized," Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said. Student data "shouldn't be handed over willy-nilly like that. I don't know how that slipped through," he said.

    The law requires colleges to transmit the information about students before they are enrolled and covered by the federal law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

    "It's candidly quite a shock," said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. "I'm not aware of any other similar release of private information."

    Representatives of Virginia's colleges met Monday with state police to determine the proper format for delivering the information and to develop detailed guidelines.
    College officials said they are still unsure exactly how the system will work.
    ***"Whether we have concerns about this or not, it's the law," said Jeff Hannah, a spokesman for the University of Virginia.

    Stolle said federal law does not allow state police to keep the student data indefinitely.
    "You can't stop protecting people because you're afraid that efforts . . . are going to be abused," he said. "I think the benefits outweigh the inconveniences."

    *This is a blatant lie. The Patriot Act does not, in fact, have any such requirements, although your bank will tell you it does. Go in to a bank other than your own, and ask to open a new account. They will ask for your SSN and tell you it's Patriot Act law. Then ask for a copy of the regulations, they won't provide it to you.

    **That's also got to be a lie. Wouldn't it make more sense for the law enforcement to provide EACH SCHOOL with the sex offender list, and have the school check it against their own applicant list, then report any matches?

    ***Again, must be a lie. If the school actually had any integrity, they would challenge the law against the Privacy Act loophole... or just simply refuse to provide the info.
     
  3. Lex

    Lex
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    I am fucking speechless. That these things happen with no as much as one piece of evidence or data to back their imposition is flabbergasting! Since when do we need to search through incoming college freshmen records to find sex offenders? Am I missing something?!?
     
  4. DC_DEEP

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    Fuckin' A Right you're missing something, my friend. We all are, and we are losing those somethings, quietly, piece by piece. So far, 5 views and yours is the only comment, Lex. I am just stunned speechless that the lawmakers didn't see what I thought was immediately obvious... my little footnote number two. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not just simply an issue of whether or not the colleges are handing over private, confidential, legally protected information. You are a complete and utter idiot if you think for a moment they will purge those databases after they finish "matching against a known sex offender list." Just curious, how many of you were asked for, and provided, your social security number to your internet service provider? If you get your service through cable or phone or DSL, I bet you did. Do you think your internet activity is also being logged on this site? Right-o, cheers, welcome to the database.
     
  5. DC_DEEP

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    It is all so insidious. Had I not seen the article in the Post this morning, I would never have heard anything about it. How many other states are lubing up this sort of legislation and quietly slipping it through your back door? It may not affect you directly right now, but I promise you, it will. Soon. Sooner than you can imagine.
     
  6. Lex

    Lex
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    I have always held the belief that our privacy was vastly an illusion (private as so long as you don't break big laws--child pronography, for example) and even so, these measures are just insane.

    That amount of data in highly insecure formats and in the hands of less than competent people is so dangerous that it belies belief.

    Do these lawmakers have ANY idea how vulnerable they are making thousands of innocent people in the name of safety? UGH.
     
  7. DC_DEEP

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    Yes, Lex, I feel fairly certain that they do indeed have full comprehension. Think about it for a moment. Let's see, all the utilities (gas, water, electric, cable, ISP...) will not provide service unless you provide SSN. Same with DMV. Same with your education. Same with voter registration. Now, they have a comprehensive dataset tied to your SSN. Run your SSN plus a few IP addresses through LexisNexis, see what pops out. Hmm, Lex seems to be a threat, he visits dick websites, legal websites, and checked out some red-flagged books at the library. Can we get a warrant on him? You betcha. Do we need to knock? Not really. Never mind that the books you checked out were actually about how to identify at-risk children at your school... you are now flagged. Oh yes, it does happen.
     
  8. SpeedoGuy

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    Scary. Its just another opportunity for personal information to be stolen, abused or otherwise.

    And this strikes me as more of the "guilty until proven innocent" mindset: Keep assuming every citizen is a potential criminal until the database actually id's them as a criminal. Its also hard to believe the authorities will just "throw away the data" when finished with it.
     
  9. DC_DEEP

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    SpeedoGuy, I'm guessing that since there was so much resistance to the idea of the National ID program administered through the state DMVs, that pieces are being put into place to make that program a reality without legislation. Of course they won't purge the system after running a match. They will get the info marked "required" for more and more seemingly disparate uses, then before you know it, you are 100% cross-referenced.

    Come on. The data-gatherers started with DMV (makes it easier to track driver records and fake IDs). We saw how well that worked with the 9/11 conspirators. Shit, those guys were getting PILOT LICENSES. Then they started in with the public utilities (makes it easier for us to track down people with delinquent utility accounts). Right. No comment. Now getting an early start with anyone who applies to college (we gotta keep all those rampant sex offenders off the campus). Like I mentioned earlier, wouldn't it make more sense to provide the (already publicly available) convicted sex offender list to the school, and let them run the matching?
     
  10. Shelby

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    I admire all you folks' idealism. Your passion for what's right is my great hope for this country.

    However, while I, perhaps naively, love the U.S. (in the sense that I think it's better than 99% of the alternatives), I pretty much conceded my rights to privacy the moment I applied for a social security card.

    Defeatist? Admittedly and not proudly.
     
  11. DC_DEEP

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    Don't get me wrong, Shelby. I am 100% patriot. I love my country, just not necessarily the current regime. It does truly and deeply sadden me that you complacently accept your place as a defeatist.

    I did NOT concede any rights whatsoever when I applied for a Social Security card. In fact, I was guaranteed certain rights when I did... and the government feels absolutely OK with constantly breaking its contractual agreements with the citizens. Well, I'm not OK with it. As far as I am concerned, the government has as much responsibility to honor contracts as do I.
     
  12. SpeedoGuy

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    Its not clear to me whether you're being sarcastic or not. I'm assuming not, so I'm responding by saying I do care about what happens to the U.S. because I live here and I want the place to be strong, just and healthy. I'll excercise whatever small amount of influence I have to try to make it that way.



    If that's naivety then I guess I join you. I admit, though, that I do often despair about what will happen as the "information age" progresses. I think the jinn is out of the bottle, never to go back in.
     
  13. Shelby

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    I know you do. That's why you're so pissed. And believe me, I'm neither complacent nor accepting.

    I just find it unrealistic to believe that with as many places I've been required to provide my ss# - job app's, tax returns, drivers lic's, insurance forms, doctors office forms, etc, etc., - that I'm some sort of untrackable ghost.

    I do, however, derive some small modicum of Charles Bronson style baddass satisfaction by refusing to allow Safeway, Rite Aid, et al., track me by using their 'advantage' cards. lol
     
  14. DC_DEEP

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    But that's the point I'm trying to get across to everyone here. We ALL need to start refusing to provide SSN to just anyone, simply because they ask. Drop a quick email to your congressman and senators and tell them you are tired of the abuses and want Privacy Act enforcement stiffened up. I do NOT give my SSN to anyone other than my employer, the bank I use for an interest-bearing account, and the IRS. Period. I'm still fighting Virginia DMV and Virginia voter registration over this issue. My physician, my ophthalmologist, my dentist, and my insurance issuers do NOT have my SSN. Everyone needs to start refusing to provide it where it is not warranted. Many will lie to you and tell you it's legally required, but if you demand that they show you in print where the law DOES require it, they usually back down. Did you know that by federal law, if they ask for it, they are supposed to provide you with a copy of their privacy policy and a copy of the Privacy Act, and tell you exactly how that information will be used? Did you know that for them to use SSN, they have to be able to prove that they are grandfathered in the Privacy Act? If they do not follow those procedures, they have violated federal law even asking for it. As for the "advantage" cards, I usually give a little false info and get the card (plus the extortion discount) while still avoiding the extortion.


     
  15. Shelby

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    That's some good shit DC_DEEP.

    I'm going to try to follow your example and - more importantly - teach my kids to do the same.
     
  16. DC_DEEP

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    From the Washington Post, March 6 2006:

    Sale of Data by Tax Preparers Draws Protests

    www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/ content/article/2006/03/22/AR2006032202190.html

    Seems that the IRS claims it will better protect your privacy if they relax the rules for preparers (up to and including the biggies, like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt) to sell part or all of your tax return information. This is must-read stuff for anyone who has ever "had their taxes done" by someone else.
     
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