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April 9, 1997					(202) 225-6511

Take Earnings Information Off Internet, Congressman Kanjorski Tells Social Security Administration
Washington, DC-- Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11) announced today the he will introduce legislation to prohibit the Social Security Administration from releasing private earnings information on the Internet. Over the last month the Social Security Administration, through its Web site, has allowed individuals instant access to their anticipated Social Security benefits, as well as earnings records. "The federal government has no right to allow unauthorized access to highly sensitive, private information about individuals, such as their lifetime earnings. The Social Security Administration's Web site does not provide adequate safeguards to ensure that private information remains private," said Congressman Kanjorski. "While I appreciate the efforts of the Social Security Administration to make its information user-friendly for the American people, this system is abuser-friendly and needs to be stopped," said Congressman Kanjorski. With just five pieces of information -- a person's name, Social Security number, mother's maiden name, date and place of birth -- anyone can gain access to someone else's earnings records. "Too much private information about individuals is already easily available through the wonders of the World Wide Web. The federal government needs to be more careful than ever with the sensitive information it has in its possession about American citizens," said Congressman Kanjorski. A senior member of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Congressman Kanjorski is seeking hearings to be held on this issue. -MORE- Congressman Kanjorski's bill would prohibit the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service from providing access to any individual's tax records, earnings history, or other Social Security information without a specific written request from the individual. His bill also would establish a Commission on Privacy of Government Records, with the mandate to make recommendations on privacy issues to the President and the Congress by April 15, 1998. "The Internet is a powerful tool for disseminating information, which is precisely why government agencies need to be extraordinarily cautious about what information is posted on the Internet until adequate safeguards are implemented to protect individuals' privacy," said Congressman Kanjorski.