15 Apr State to end use of Social Security numbers for IDs
Madison, Wis. – First, it was the Department of Health and Family Services that vowed to end the use of Social Security numbers as identifiers for state programs. Now perhaps all of state government will end the practice as part of a directive from Gov. Jim Doyle.
In the aftermath of a review of security breaches linked to the visibility of Social Security numbers in state mailings, Doyle has called for state agencies to replace Social Security numbers with random identifiers for the administration of state programs. The review, conducted by Metavante Corp., recommends changes to the state’s data collection practices.
Doyle issued the directive for new data privacy standards in a letter to state Department of Administration Secretary Michael Morgan. In addition to replacing Social Security numbers with random ID numbers, the governor directed Morgan to work with state agencies to conduct annual risk assessments of policies designed to protect sensitive data, to designate a privacy officer in each agency that would be responsible for data protection oversight, and to develop standard language for the safeguarding of personal information that would be part of vendor contracts.
In the letter, Doyle wrote: “Every day, government has to collect sensitive information about its citizens in order to provide services like issuing a fishing license, calculating a tax refund, or confirming eligibility for healthcare services. We have a serious responsibility to protect Wisconsin’s citizens by ensuring their personal information is secure.”
Kevin Hayden, outgoing Secretary of DHFS, told the Assembly Committee on Consumer Protection and Personal Privacy in January the department was working with Electronic Data Systems to change identification numbers to a unique 10-digit number that does not include the Social Security numbers of Wisconsin residents enrolled in state healthcare programs.
His testimony came shortly after EDS mistakenly mailed 260,000 brochures to Medicaid recipients that included their Social Security numbers on the address labels. Prior to that, the state Department of Revenue sent mailings to 5,000 people with their Social Security numbers visible in the address window.
The breaches prompted Doyle to ask Metavante, a Milwaukee-based provider of banking and payments technology, to look into the state’s security practices.
• DHFS to end practice of using Social Security numbers for ID
• Metavante strengthens ties with European bank
• Extracting and redacting: Is solution to state’s privacy fumbles right in its own back yard?