Saturday, November 11, 2017
Eyeing more secure alternatives to Social Security numbers, lawmakers in the U.S. are looking abroad. Today, the Senate Commerce Committee questioned former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Verizon chief privacy officer Karen Zacharia and both the current and former CEOs of Equifax on how to protect consumers against major data breaches. The consensus was that Social Security numbers have got to go. Rounding out the panel, Entrust Datacard president and CEO Todd Wilkinson offered some context and insight about why the U.S. should indeed move away from Social Security numbers -- a step that the witnesses unanimously agreed was necessary if not wholly sufficient to protect consumers moving forward, in light of the Equifax hack.
"Over 145 million Americans' insecure identities are now forever at risk, and they have limited ability to protect themselves," Wilkinson said. "A key question for this committee to consider is: What do we do now given these identities are forever compromised?"
Social Security numbers are a privacy nightmare. While a consumer who gets hacked can replace credit card numbers and other account details, a Social Security number is relatively permanent, linked to a real identity throughout a person's lifespan. In the hearing, Wilkinson and many of the senators present argued that the U.S. needs to move to a dynamic system of personal identity, one designed with digital security in mind -- a stark contrast with an inflexible legacy system that dates back to the 1930s.
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