This story quite interesting:
A federal judge has ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of Virginia privacy activist Betty Ostergren to publish the Social Security numbers of public officials on her website. She posted the numbers to protest the Virginia government’s policy of posting public real estate records online that included people’s Social Security numbers. The decision-and the associated publicity for Ostergren’s website-may prompt Virginia politicians to hurry up and fix their own website.
For several years, Virginia has been making the real estate records available for a nominal fee from a commonwealth website. Ostergren, wanting to give public officials a taste of their own medicine, began reproducing the records of legislators and court clerks-Social Security numbers and all-on her website.
I have my own solution for the SSN mess that we have found ourselves in. Make ALL SSNs public.
Crazy? Why? Stop and think outside the box for a moment. The SSN is, at its fundamental roots, nothing more than a Primary Key. Your SSN is really nothing more than your position in a giant spreadsheet.
It’s the semi-private nature of the SSN themselves that has caused this problem. If they had been published openly from day 1 they would never have evolved into a shared-secret means of authentication.
This madness could end. All that needs to happen is the federal government pass a law that starting 2 years from now all SSNs will be published on a government web site. That would give business two years to stop using SSNs as a shared-secret, which is something that they should already be doing.