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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy > Public Records > Government Databases > National "New Hires" Database

National "New Hires" Database

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 required the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a National Directory of New Hires. This directory is a database of information on all newly hired employees, quarterly wage reports, and unemployment insurance claims in the United States. The National Directory of New Hires is maintained by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement in the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is housed at the Social Security Administration's National Computer Center.

The purpose of this new database was entirely laudable helping states locate parents who have skipped out on their child support obligations. All databases are created for laudable purposes. But they have clear tendencies to grow and adopt new uses, at some point uses which may vary dramatically from their original purposes.

Already, the National Directory of New Hires has been expanded to track down defaulters on student loans. Additional expansions have been proposed that would give state unemployment insurance officials access to the database.

A database covering every working American should entitle people to be concerned about their privacy, and their civil rights. It was a database of information, collected for laudable purposes, after all, that allowed Japanese Americans to be rounded up and interned during World War II.


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[updated 9/20/00]

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