California proposal would ban data release for research

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A California legislator is proposing a ban on state agencies handing out Social Security numbers and other personal data unless required for law enforcement purposes.

Sen. Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) is proposing the ban in response to an August 1 incident at U.C. Berkeley, when a researcher's computer was hacked. The researcher had names and social security numbers of 600,000 in-home care workers and recipients, which she received from California's Department of Social Services.

Her proposal would repeal California laws that allow state agencies to release Social Security numbers and other personal data to public and private researchers.

"Social Security numbers are the key to identity theft and state agencies ought to be guarding them like the Hope diamond, not handing them out like holiday stocking stuffers," Bowen said in a prepared statement.

Bowen's proposal would expand on her Senate Bill 168 of 2001 and Senate Bill 25 of 2003. Both imposed restrictions on how businesses and government agencies use Social Security numbers.

http://democrats.sen.ca.gov/senator/bowen/

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