Posted by Chris Caravella on 13 AUG 2007 8:47:18
I would like to have an intelligent conversation about the use of social security numbers in this website. Recently I have gotten several requests (bordering on threats) to remove social security numbers from the site. If anyone has any logical reason to fear this, then please chime in. Social security numbers become public information about a month after a person is deceased. This is done specifically so that any institution can check to make sure that someone is not fraudulently trying to use a deceased persons identity. Even if it were possible to establish this identity, what would be incentive to do so. A deceased person has no assets to steal. I think these requests are mostly driven by fear of the very real problem of identity theft of the living. I just don't see how this fear has any relevance to the dead. no salient need to have SSN's at this site except maybe to use as a cross reference between documents to establish a definite identity. Even this is barely useful because online SSN's only contain deaths after 1962 and most researchers don't have a problem with recent family history. Possibly in the distant future this will be a much greater resource. of public information and I tend to be more of a glass-half-full person when it comes to trust. What do you think? Should I strip them out?