Wow! I come back home after attending some 4th of July parties in Chapel Hill, and I find there are more flames on my recent blog posting than in any fireworks show I've seen. How did this happen? And what does it mean? And what am I going to do about it?
How did this happen?
The answer is pretty simple. I wrote a long and convoluted blog posting about identity theft, its epidemic proportions, and the challenges of raising children in such a hostile environment. I then explained how the unthinking act of supplying one's Social Security number (SSN) to any agency not directly connected with Social Security is a violation of the original design of the SSN, a violation of instructions printed on the card (until 1972), a violation of consumer protection and privacy laws passed as recently as 1974, a violation of expert testimony presented to Congress in 1992, 2000, and as recently as last month. Based on these facts, I argued that the reason identity theft is epidemic in this country is precisely because people have either ignored these facts or have been simply unaware of them. I then finished with a twist, noting that the iPhone activation procedure asks customers to do precisely what the security experts agree you should never do, which is to supply a Social Security number as personal identification information. And if you have been following the blog, you know that my wife Amy is going to be getting an iPhone, so I was using the blog to share with her (and all the other parents reading along) some friendly family advice informed from my 20+ years as a computer scientist.
Well, when she picked her jaw back up, she said "You buried the lead!" I turned my article upside down, putting the most important stuff up front; CNET then (re)published the blog in their big news section, and the fireworks began!
That is how it happened.… Read more