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Wednesday June 6, 2001

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UA students and employees to receive new identification numbers

By Daniel Scarpinato

Arizona Summer Wildcat

State statute requires university to stop using Social Security numbers as means of identification

The UA's Center for Computing and Information Technology is in the process of a programming phase that will allow its computer system to assign new identification numbers for all university students and employees.

The measure is in response to a 1999 state statute that requires that all state universities change the current policy of using Social Security numbers for identification purposes.

Mary Salgado, a systems analyst for the office of curriculum and registration, said all ID numbers - including those belonging to current students - are required to be changed by July 2002, but no date has been set for when the conversion will officially take place.

"So much programming has to be done before any numbers can be reassigned," she said. "We would like to have it all done by the fall, but that date is not yet certain."

Peter Perona, executive director of CCIT, said there is only a small timeframe in which the changes can be made due to the magnitude of the project.

CCIT officials said the system should be ready to accommodate the new numbers by Dec.31.

The State Legislature passed the statute after questions about privacy and security were raised over the use of Social Security numbers as a means of identification.

Ann Feldman, a business sophomore, said she has more concerns over being assigned a new number than keeping the old one.

"I don't want another number to memorize," she said. "I don't have any problem with using my Social Security number. It's easy to remember."

Ben Theisman, a philosophy senior, agreed.

"No one can see the number anyway," he said. "I don't see why it matters."

According to Salgado, students who would like to keep their Social Security number for identification proposes must request to do so after a new number has been assigned.

Salgado said students will not be charged for the new numbers.