Everywhere we turn, someone is asking for our Social Security
Number: at the airport, the drivers' license office, the store,
everywhere, it seems. Yet the Social Security number was created
solely as an accounting number in administering the Social Security
system, and was never intended to be a universal identifier.
In recent years, though, the Social Security Number has become
just that, and unless the use of the number is restored to its
original purpose, it will soon become a national identification
number by which the federal government can easily keep track of
all vital information regarding American citizens.
While I am proud to be the author of the Freedom and Privacy Restoration
Act, which would stop a national identification card from taking
effect, we need to be aware that those wanting to give government
power to track us from cradle to grave already have the Social
Security Number as their tool of choice. It is for this reason
that several months ago I introduced the Privacy Protection Act,
Anyone who doubts that we are well on the way to using the Social
Security number as an universal identifier need only look back
to 1996. In that year, two major pieces of legislation passed
leading this nation down the path toward the National ID. The
first was the welfare reform bill, which forces business to report
the Social Security number of every new employee to the federal
government so it may be recorded in a national database. The second
was the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act,
which required that the Department of Transportation implement
"standards" for state drivers' licenses that must be
followed or the citizens be punished.
Perhaps the most disturbing abuses of the Social Security number
is the Congressionally-authorized rule forcing parents to get
a Social Security number for their newborn children in order to
claim them as a dependent. Mr. Speaker, forcing parents to register
their newborn children with the state is more like something out
of the nightmare of George Orwell than the dreams of a free Republic
that inspired the nation's founders.
This is not an isolated incident; in fact, since the creation
of the Social Security number in 1934, there have been almost
40 congressionally-authorized uses of the Social Security number
as an identification number for non-Social Security programs!
Abuse of the Social Security system also occurs at the state level.
In many states - thanks to federal law - one cannot get a driver's
license, apply for a job, or even receive a birth certificate
for one's child, without presenting their Social Security number
to a government official, and just a couple months ago weeks ago
210 of my colleagues voted to allow States to require citizens
to show their Social Security number in order to vote. Since the
Social Security number is part of a federal program created by
Congress, it is Congress' responsibility to ensure it is not used
to violate the privacy of America's citizens.
I am proud to be the author of the Freedom and Privacy Restoration
Act to stop a national ID system from taking place, but we should
not be fooled into thinking that the coming National ID is the
only threat to our privacy. For America already has a de facto
national identification number in the Social Security Number,
which comes close to providing the federal government with the
ability to track all citizens from cradle to grave.
The Social Security Number was created to administer the social
security system, and nothing else. We must restore the integrity
of the system by restoring the integrity of the accounts. That
will only occur when we reign in the use of the account numbers
and secure the privacy of the people. This is the purpose of the
Privacy Protection Act.
We must stop a national ID for many reasons, both moral and constitutional,
and we need to stop it in all its forms. The Freedom and Privacy
Restoration Act addresses the specific issue of a looming National
ID, while the Privacy Protection Act addresses the broader issue
which has been creeping up on us for many years.
The drafters of the Constitution would be horrified if they knew
that the federal government would one day have the ability to
create a national ID system and demand that every newborn baby
be assigned a number by the federal government. One wonders if
the Founders would have fought for liberty if they knew how that
precious right would be eroded by their political descendants.