Your Social Security Number & the Privacy Act!

The following is an important court case pertaining to the use of the social security number.  The Privacy Act is still in effect!!!


The prisons are not big enough to hold those who use this "number" including banks, credit card companies, and state and federal agencies, Dept. of Safety, Highway Patrol, insurance companies....


Philadelphia Inquirer | 02/28/2006 | Judge rejects Pa. gun-buying terms

and the case is at:

         Judge rejects Pa. gun-buying terms

          Requiring prospective owners to provide their Social Security
          numbers violates the U.S. Privacy Act, the judge ruled. Read
          the opinion

By John Shiffman Inquirer Staff Writer

Pennsylvania's requirement that buyers provide a Social Security number
to purchase a g un or obtain a concealed-weapons permit was struck down
yesterday by a federal judge. The state law violated the federal Privacy
Act, U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez ruled.

"This issue has been largely overlooked in Pennsylvania and other states
for a long time," said lawyer J. Dwight Yoder, who brought the case on
behalf of a retired U.S. Army officer from Lancaster. "This ruling is
about privacy, not guns. We weren't looking to circumvent gun laws.

"Lawyers for the Pennsylvania State Police are reviewing the decision
and considering an appeal, spokesman Jack Lewis said. By requiring
applicants to provide Social Security numbers, Lewis said, his agency
"simply has followed the requirements of the state's Uniform Firearms
Act."The wider impact of yesterday's ruling - whether, for example,
other Pennsylvania Social Security requirements would be deemed invalid
- was uncertain.

One reason is that there are two larg e exceptions to the Privacy Act's
protection of Social Security numbers. The act does not apply to state
and local government programs specifically exempted by federal law, such
as driver's license applications, or to programs from before 1974, such
as voter registration.

Sanchez's ruling noted that the right of privacy as to Social Security
numbers exists under a federal law, not as a right the U.S. Supreme
Court had interpreted as protected by the Constitution.

Still, Robert Ellis Smith, publisher of the Privacy Journal in
Providence, R.I., said yesterday's ruling was "significant because it
comes at a time when most government agencies are requiring more and
more information from people.""The decision is part of a trend in the
last 10 years as courts realize the importance of keeping Social
Security numbers confidential because of identity theft," Smith said.

Smith, who is also a lawyer and journalist, was a p aid expert for
Michael Stollenwerk, the retired Army officer who brought the case in
federal court in Philadelphia.

Stollenwerk said yesterday he hoped the ruling would inspire others to
challenge government demands for Social Security numbers. He also said
he hoped it would encourage local and state officials to review
application requirements.

"A lot of state governments have blown off this law," said Stollenwerk,
now a law student at Georgetown University. "I think someone had to
stand up to the government and say, 'I'm going to challenge this.'

"Stollenwerk, 42, has pressed the matter on gun permits in other states,
he said. In California, without going to court, he said, he was able to
convince state authorities that their gun-purchase law violated the
Privacy Act. In Virginia, he said, he was victorious in state court.

Stollenwerk began his Pennsylvania effort in June 2003, when he was
still an Army li eutenant colonel based in the Washington suburbs.On June
30, 2003, Stollenwerk tried to buy a Taurus revolver from US Prospectors
Sporting Goods in Columbia, Lancaster County. When the dealer asked for
his Social Security number, Stollenwerk declined to provide it. The
dealer called state police to try to complete the sale, but the state
police refused to run Stollenwerk's name through its database, the
Pennsylvania Instant Check System, without a Social Security number.

A few days later, Stollenwerk tried to apply for a concealed-gun permit
from the Lancaster County sheriff. He supplied his passport, driver's
license, voter-registration card, bank statements, and utility bills as
identification. When he refused to disclose his Social Security number,
Sheriff Terry A. Bergman denied him a license to carry a firearm.
Bergman referred calls yesterday to his attorney, David Karamessinis,
who could not be reached for comment.

/Contact staff writer John Shiffman at 215-854-2658 or