Reading privacy Journal’s Mail

Reading privacy Journal’s Mail

From Okoboji, Iowa: How do we get Social Security numbers off Medicare cards? The gov’ment tells us to be careful with SS#s – not to carry SS Cards, don’t print the number on a driver’s license, checks, etc. But the gov’ment mandates carrying of the SS# on Medicare cards. Where do we begin?

From Wellesley, Mass.: Our church plans to disclose the salaries of its employees and I want to prevent it. What are strong arguments?

Response: No law protects information like this from being disclosed unless an individual can persuade a court that the disclosure is “highly offensive.” No law requires the disclosure either. Best arguments: The traditional thinking was that salaries are a matter of individual negotiations and that only trouble would result if co-workers knew others’ salaries. In addition, some people are embarrassed by either the low level or the high level of their earnings. Some affluent people feel that they are subjected to more solicitations for charities if their earnings are generally known. But the current thinking is that disclosure of salaries increases the accountability of an organization, promotes fairness, and diminishes speculation in the workplace. Public employees become accustomed to having the public know how much they earn.

From St. Paul, Minn.: Our State Senate debated the annual Omnibus Data Practices Bill. One of the Republicans argued a couple of times that based on Minnesota’s ranking of Number Two in Privacy Journal’s ratings of the states that the legislature really did not need to do anything more. Thought you would appreciate knowing how influential your rankings are in some circles. There seems to be some support for privacy initiatives among the younger and largely suburban Republicans who are becoming very powerful in our legislature.

Copyright Privacy Journal Jun 2003

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