Martin McKeay posted today about the Texas House voting for a law that would allow SSN’s to be released with other public data like marriage licenses, court abstracts, etc. (H.B. No. 2061). My knee jerk to this is that someone needs to be smacked, and after some investigation, I think my knee jerk is correct.
Besides the obvious issue with SSN’s being made public with no one being held liable, here’s are some issues I have:
The article says:
Many local officials had interpreted the current law, which was designed to prevent identity theft, as a suggestion more than a requirement. But Attorney General Greg Abbott clarified last month the numbers must be removed before a document is made public. After his ruling, county clerks rebelled, saying they didn’t have the staff nor money to redact all the numbers right away.
I definitely get practicality. Attorney General Greg Abbott “gave county officials a 60-day reprieve from the requirement”, and I don’t know that this is enough time to put in place the resources necessary. However, I also know that a lot of government jobs tend to be (let’s see – how can I put this) cush. So I would think it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to get them to do some more work (no offense to government workers).
And a point brought up to me by Cutaway is this: do these same clerks screen themselves and politicians before their docs go out? Hmmm….
Also, Rep. Jim Keffer says this is just a temporary fix so the courthouses can keep doing business. He says this issue needs to be revisited later. But how many laws get on the books and then get revisited? Oh, let’s see… I would say about zero. Once this gets put on the books, everybody is going to forget about it.
Now, there are actually some good points to this proposed law.
- It allows Texans the ability to refuse to include SSN’s or driver’s license numbers on forms (unless the information is required by law for that form)
- It requires a notice in the office itself that states that this kind of info is not required on the forms
- It instructs the clerk offices to include a bold-faced notice on all forms that the individual can strike SSN’s and drivers license numbers from any forms on record (unless the information is required by law for that form)
- It specifically says that clerks cannot refuse a form that does not have this info on it (unless the information is required by law for that form).
- Citizens can request that this type of info be redacted from forms in the clerk’s care (unless the information is required by law for that form)
That’s all fine and dandy, but it DOES NOT instruct the clerks to change their forms to take out these fields, so most people will probably still fill out the information. It is relying on the bold-faced announcement and the notice posted in the office to draw the citizen’s attention to the fact that they don’t have to put their info on the forms. Why not take out the fields AND post the notices? Of course, that makes too much sense. Also, you have to know the form specifically from which you want your SSN redacted.
And one more thing. The section below was in the last part of the bill:
SECTION 3. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2007.
Uhhhh, I wasn’t raised in Texas, so I never took a state government course here. So maybe this is normal language in a bill (I noticed it in a few other bills as well), but this scares me. This sounds like this is going to happen no matter what. Can anyone help me out with this puppy? Can the Governor veto this (not that I have a lot of faith in him right now)?
Either way, this is bad, and all of us Texans need to get on the phone NOW. If you are a citizen of Texas and don’t know who your Senator is, go here, enter your address, and your Senators will pop up. Heck, even if you aren’t a Texan, just pick one. Feel like calling your reps and telling them they are stupid for passing this? Go here. Also, call your local TV and radio stations and let them know. These people are putting practicality over our safety. This needs to be stopped.