Join a thread, start a thread -- it's your chance to sound off!
Social Security Officials Pull The Plug
Agency turns off popular Web site amid privacy fears
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 9) -- The Social Security Administration took its controversial Web site offline today, in response to concerns that snoopers and hackers could gain access to citizens' private information for fraudulent purposes.
Several senators sent a letter to Social Security officials on Tuesday, expressing worry that a section of the Web site which offered information on an individual's annual income and available benefits was vulnerable to misuse.
The decision to take the information offline, at least temporarily, was announced at a news conference this afternoon. Acting Social Security Commissioner John Callahan said the site was shut down at 3 p.m. EDT.
The agency plans to hold public hearings across the U.S. in the next two months on privacy and computer security issues before officials make a final decision on the fate of the Web site, Callahan said.
The section of the Web site, which was placed on the Internet on March 3, was intended to handle some of the millions of citizen requests for that information every year.
Among the senators who asked Social Security to turn off the Web site were Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), William Roth (R-Del.), Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and John Chafee (R-R.I.)
USA Today, who reported on the senators' concerns today, quoted Chafee as saying, "I'd characterize this as: intentions good, result bad."
"You don"t want them to go to people that have no business seeing them," said Evan Hendricks of Privacy Times.
In fact, the Internet information -- while it was available -- was probably more secure than the mail. Social Security scrambled it in both directions and required anyone asking to enter five items of information: full name, Social Security number, date of birth, place of birth and mother's maiden name.
Said McMahon: "We wanted to make it accessible to people and there are so many people using the Internet now that this seemed like a really good way to focus service the way our customers wanted."
The records showed what you've earned in Social Security wages each year. Who could want this? It could be ex-spouses, their lawyers, or anyone who wants to know your worth before they sue you, rob you or hire you.
Said Brian Keane of Economic Security 2000: "You want to make sure that only I have access to these records ... when I get my voice mail, only I can use my voice mail ... That's what should be done here."
So far, the system had worked, with no fraud reported, although this week, many people could not get through as publicity about the site caused Internet traffic to jump to 28 times normal levels.CNN's Greg Lefevre contributed to this report.
Copyright © 1997 AllPolitics All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this information is provided to you.