Social Security Info Now on Web
WASHINGTON (AP 08.04.1997) - Social security records now available through the Internet pose few security threats to the individuals who request them, administration officials said Monday. For the past month, Americans have been able to get their Social Security records sent to them electronically. The information previously had to be mailed to their homes in a process that took up to six weeks - and at a cost of millions of dollars in postage each year. Phil Gambino, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration, said the top priority of the new program is maintaining privacy, and several security features have been built into the new system to do just that. "The information going back and forth between the requester and Social Security is encrypted, so if it gets intercepted in the middle, it can't be interpreted - it would look like jibberish," he said. Auditors also are able to trace the origin of a request back to the exact personal computer used to make it, he said. Still, critics concerned about privacy rights are worried. "As soon as crooks start exploiting this service to get other people's information, Social Security is going to have a real problem on its hands," Evan Hendricks, chairman of the U.S. Privacy Council in Washington, told USA Today. The newspaper identified various types of potential abuse: potential employers could get the salary history of job applicants; co-workers could determine how much fellow employees make; landlords could use the information to determine whether someone can afford an apartment. But Gambino said anyone who intends to abuse the system would have to overcome several hurdles. "We built into the system, right from the beginning, the strongest security system available," Gambino said. "The only way they can get around it is by committing a crime and in order to commit the crime they have to go through a great deal of effort to get all that identifying information."http://www.ssa.gov
WASHINGTON (AP 10.04.1997) - Social Security officials pulled the plug on an Internet site that provided individual earnings and retirement benefit records and decided to begin asking Americans whether such information should be available online and, if so, how much.....
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