Letter to the editor

Social Security numbers aren’t an all-purpose ID

Dear Editor:

Greg Seibert’s willingness to be the point man on the university’s casual treatment of Social Security numbers is commendable, though hard to understand, since it wasn’t his decision to put such sensitive information on a laptop computer. The university’s conduct is also hard to understand and certainly not commendable.  I cannot count the number of times that University Registrar Roberta Sikula-Schwalm has warned everyone of the dire consequences of treating student IDs in such a careless fashion. It is inexcusable that the same concern is not shown for faculty ID.

For tax reasons, the university is entitled to have our Social Security numbers. However, federal law does not allow that information to be used as an all-purpose ID. For years now, the university has been promising to create new identification numbers for students and faculty. I guess the responsible officials were just waiting for a potential mass identity theft to provide the necessary incentive.

Timothy D. Smith

Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication