Every day citizens of the United States are confronted with requests or demands from many sources to disclose their Federal Social Security Account Number. Many states are now requiring Social Security Account Numbers for driver's license applications; public school officials demand that school-age children have Social Security Account Numbers before the child may be enrolled; some hospitals intimidate parents into applying for a Social Security Account Number for their newborn child by informing the parents that without complying with this policy, the child cannot be discharged. Private parties of all kinds from banks to employers claim federal and state law mandates that they obtain the Social Security Account Number of everyone with whom they conduct business. Qualified potential employees have not been hired because they do not have, or were not willing to divulge, a Social Security Account Number. Employees have actually been terminated from employment when they refused to obtain a Social Security Account Number. And now, the State of Colorado has joined this ever-expanding group demanding your Social Security Account Number.
Premiered in an article on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2000 by Mikaela Rierson, the Craig Daily Press proclaimed in the headlines, "New Licenses Require New Information, Colorado Drivers Must Now Provide Social Security Number to Get License." The article states that effective Nov. 1, all applicants for driver's licenses in Colorado are now required to provide their Social Security Numbers in order to receive the license and that the law (SB 145) passed during the last legislative session is based upon federal mandates enacted by President Clinton.
With all the private, local, state and federal demands, surely the law must contain a requirement that everyone must have a Social Security Account Number. But in actuality and fact:
The federal Social Security Act (Public Law 74-271, Aug. 14, 1935 codified at 42 U.S.C. 301 et seq.) provides no language establishing the Social Security Account Number as anything more than voluntary, and there is absolutely no section contained therein which could remotely be considered as a mandate for every individual citizen to be required to have a Social Security Account Number.
Statutory law fails to impose any requirement that the individual citizen be required to have a Social Security Account Number.
Regulations promulgated pursuant to the Act under 20 C.F.R. 422.103 and 26 C.F.R. Part 401 and subsequent regulations under the Internal Revenue Code 1954/1961, School Enumeration Program of 1964 and Social Security Amendments of 1972 do not impose any requirement that an individual citizen-be required to have a Social Security Account Number.
THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT NUMBER, IN REALITY, IS VOLUNTARY. COMPLIANCE WITH THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT HAS NEVER BEEN MANDATED BY ANY LAW. THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT NUMBER WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE USED AS A "NUMERICAL IDENTIFIER."
For those who voluntarily filed an application for a Social Security Account Number and were assigned one, with increasing demands being placed on individuals to furnish this Number in circumstances where the use of the Number is not required by federal law or regulation, the Congress in 1974 passed the Privacy Act of 1974 (Pub. Law 93-579, 88 Star. 1896. Section 7 of Pub. Law 93-579 provides:
(a) (1) It shall be unlawful for any federal, state or local governmental agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his Social Security Account Number.
In enacting Section 7 of Pub. Law 93-579, Congress sought to curtail the expanding use of Social Security Account Numbers by federal, state and local agencies, and by so doing, to eliminate the threat to individual privacy and confidentiality of information posed by common numerical identifiers. Underlying this legislative effort was the recognition that widespread use of a standard identification number in collecting information could lead to the establishment of a national data bank or similar informational system which could store data gathered about individuals from many sources and facilitate government surveillance of its citizens and violation of their Constitutional rights.
The plain language of the Federal Social Security Act, its legislative history, regulation and relevant precedents makes it clear that there is simply no requirement that an individual citizen must obtain and disclose a Social Security Account Number unless they receive federally funded entitlements and the disclosure of the Number is required to receive the benefits.
I believe strongly in states sovereignty; however, the legislators in the State of Colorado have exceeded their delegated authority and are violating the Privacy Act, breeching federal law, and subverting Constitutional rights by attempting to implement SB 145 requiring a Social Security Account Number in order to receive a state issued driver's license.
The Privacy Act, Pub. Law 93-579, codified at Title 5, USCA 522 (a)(1) further states that "any individual damaged by the denial of a right, benefit or privilege because he lawfully refused to disclose his Social Security Account Number is entitled to recover:
(a) actual damages sustained by the individual as a result of the refusal or failure, but in no case shall a person be entitled to recover less than the sum of 51,000.00; and
(b) the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney's fees as determined by the Court."
The history and ramifications of the social Security Act is a voluminous subject. However, for this limited treaties it should be obvious to all that the intended purpose of the Account Number has long been abused by many parties.
LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS WERE INSTITUTED TO UPHOLD, PRESERVE AND PROTECT LIBERTIES AND RIGHTS AS GUARANTEED BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AS WELL AS THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE MANY STATES. THESE GOVERNMENTS, INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY, DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY OR JURISDICTION TO DIMINISH OUR LIBERTIES AND RIGHTS IN ANY FASHION. WE MUST IMMEDIATELY STOP VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE OF SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT NUMBERS TO THOSE WHO HAVE NO LAWFUL RIGHT TO REQUIRE THEM. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT NUMBER TO BECOME A NATIONAL NUMERICAL IDENTIFIER AND A COMPOSITE OF THE NATIONAL IDENTITY SYSTEM AS SPONSORED BY THOSE ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES WHO ARE NOT UPHOLDING THEIR OATHS OF OFFICE. WE MUST HOLD OUR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE TO "WE, THE PEOPLE" BY REQUIRING THEM TO OPERATE WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF LAW.
(John Watt retired as an Executive Vice President from private industry and settled in Brown's Park. He currently works on a limited basis as an analyst and consultant and studies law.)