If you read this blog (I guess you do since you are reading this) or my Computerworld blog, you know about my feelings (here and here) on the attempt at de-privatizing Social Security numbers in Texas. But when I read this post by Mordaxus @ the Emergent Chaos Blog, I had to think about what he was saying for a second. Basically, he thinks the law is a good thing because county clerks shouldn’t receive jail time for giving out public documents with SSN’s printed on them. He makes this statement in making his point: “not everything that’s bad and needs to stop has to have jail time and fines on it.” Well, hmmmm. I guess my Texas notion of justice doesn’t quite fit that statement, but I’m open to other opinions on that. However, the extreme measure that the law takes is ridiculous.
The social security number of a living person is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021, but is not confidential under this section and this section does not make the social security number of a living person confidential under another provision of this chapter or other law.
Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but this seems a tad bit over-the-top just to protect some county clerks. Here’s another section of the same law:
The county clerk is not criminally or civilly liable for disclosing an instrument or information in an instrument in compliance with the public information law (Chapter 552, Government Code) or another law.
So why isn’t this section enough to fulfill what Mordaxus is looking for? Can’t we just exempt the county clerks without deprivatizing SSN’s? Of course, the potential for abuse by county clerks is on the crazy side with just this section.
Here’s some more:
Other than the duty to redact an individual’s social security number as required by Section 552.147, Government Code, the county clerk has no duty to ensure that an instrument presented for recording does not contain an individual’s social security number.
Then who the @#%! does have the duty? Sheesh.
Basically, this is a law that goes too far to protect a few individuals because those individuals have power and influence and wanted some protection. I get the desire to be protected, but this law is just too much.