Ron Paul

Identity Crisis

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The reliably libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul from Texas has introduced the "Identity Theft Prevention Act," a bill that will require the Social Security Administration to reissue Americans a new SSN that would actually be restricted to use in administrating the Social Security program, not used as an all-purpose federal (and other) identification number.

For the pragmatic argument, he points out how the rampant use of SSNs makes identity theft for the purpose of illegitimately using other people's credit and bank accounts easier. But he also has a more principled argument, saying that some "members of Congress will claim that the federal government needs the power to monitor Americans in order to allow the government to operate more efficiently. I would remind my colleagues that in a constitutional republic, the people are never asked to sacrifice their liberties to make the job of government officials easier. We are here to protect the freedom of the American people, not to make privacy invasion more efficient."

The fate of this bill will most likely be similar to that of all the other bills the dauntless Rep. Paul introduces. But it's wonderful that he's out there trying. His speech introducing the bill can be found here.

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  1. As a fellow Texan, I am proud of Ron Paul – one politician that I can actually pat on the back for at least trying to do his job.

  2. Good for him. And from Texas, yet still oddly sensible. Whatever next?

    I blame people (including myself), not just the government. When the video rental store, or the phone company, wants your SSN to open an account, how hard is it to say “Why, will you be sending me checks when I retire?” People should have told them to piss off, instead of allowing it to become a de facto national ID number.

  3. The excuse that companies give for asking for the SSN is mainly to check on the credit rating of the individual who is applying for their service. It’s not much of an excuse mind you, I’m sure there are other methods of finding out whether or not a potential customer is dead beat or not that don’t involve a major violation of their privacy.

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