HIGHTOWER: Don't Surrender Your Social Security Number

The Sprint corporation picked on the wrong guy when they messed with Burton Caine.He's a professor of Constitutional Law at Temple University, and he knows when his right to privacy is being stomped on. He went to Sprint to get cell-phone service from the company. OK, said the clerk, give me your social security number. Say what?! Why the hell does Sprint need my social security number? It's company policy to get customers' numbers as IDs, was the reply. No, said Caine.He knows his rights. If you still have your actual social security card, you'll note that it plainly says: "Not to be used for Identification." But Congress never passed enforcing legislation. So, retailers, banks, employers, drivers license agencies, and all sorts of other corporate and governmental entities now routinely demand your personal number -- it has become our de facto national ID, the Constitution be damned.Professor Caine, however, just said no. OK, said Sprint, but to get cell-phone service, you'll have to give us your passport number and pay a $120 deposit. Then, something truly 1984ish happened. Sprint informed a credit agency that his credit was no good, and the agency put out a bad report on Caine's financial worthiness, despite him having a sterling credit rating up until the Sprint incident.In letters to the credit agency, he demanded to see his record. Guess what the agency said? We can't give you a copy of your record unless you tell us your social security number! Kafka, George Orwell, and Joseph Heller combined couldn't have conjured up this twisted plot line.Professor Caine is still raising Constitutional hell with Sprint and the credit agency, but he's also urging us all to demand that congress stop this promiscuous use of our private social security numbers.This is Jim Hightower saying ... To join this fight for privacy. Contact www.aclu.org.

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