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Editorial: Maintain the high pressure on SSN bill

Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 26, 1999
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Occasionally, it is necessary for the state Legislature to step in to correct a situation where the university has goofed. The university goofed when it illegally released students' Social Security numbers last spring to private companies. Although the university retracted the Social Security numbers after they were caught, considering the scope of this error the university should have done more.

Most universities do not use Social Security numbers as student identification numbers. The university should have taken immediate steps to eliminate the use of Social Security numbers as student ID's, to prevent any future incidents from happening. However, nothing like that ever took place.

Fortunately, thanks to the persistent efforts of the Arizona Students Association, identical bills have been proposed in the state House of Representatives and Senate preventing Arizona universities from using Social Security numbers as identification numbers.

This is the correct remedial action that needs to be taken. Sometimes an apology isn't enough. We need to make sure that an abuse of Social Security numbers does not happen again. One can only imagine what further abuses of privacy might arise.

There have been complaints that if the university no longer uses Social Security Numbers as IDs, there will be problems with financial aid, which requires Social Security Numbers. This argument lacks support, and is indeed insulting. If other universities can do it, why can't we? Are naysayers implying that the UA is incapable of managing students' private records at the same standard that other universities do with their students' records?

The UA is one of the best public universities in the country. If anything, the university should be able to provide superior protection for students' privacy relative to other schools.

It seems a little suspicious that there is some hesitation at adopting this bill. There shouldn't be any reason why anyone would object. Let's hope there aren't any ulterior motives. Let's hope the university doesn't try to put pressure on the Legislature not to pass this bill. Greedy desire to use students' records illegally for profit have no place in our public universities.

We need to keep the pressure up on the state Legislature to pass this much-needed bill. Let Arizona be an example to the rest of the country as a state that values privacy, and did something about it.