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Home > Past Releases and Reports > Privacilla Assesses Amy Boyer's Law


For Immediate Release

December 14, 2000

Contact: Jim Harper

(202) 486-0824

Privacilla Assesses Amy Boyer's Law

Measure Confuses Privacy and Crime Control, Addresses Neither Problem Well

Privacilla.org released a study today called "Understanding Amy Boyer's Law: Social Security Numbers, Crime Control, and Privacy." The study analyzes a bill slated for final action in the U.S. Congress at any time.

Though widely viewed as a privacy measure, Amy Boyer's Law was inspired by the horrible murder of a young Nashua, New Hampshire woman. It most closely addresses another type of crime: identity fraud.

"Social Security Numbers are closely identified with the crime of identity fraud," said Jim Harper, operator of the Privacilla Web site, "yet Amy Boyer's law proposes to control Social Security Numbers in the name of privacy. Crime and privacy are two different things. It just doesn't add up."

Amy Boyer's Law would outlaw the display, sale, or use of Social Security Numbers in some circumstances. In doing so, it crosses lines drawn by the First Amendment. The study reveals that a Web site maintained by Amy Boyer's family would violate Amy Boyer's Law.

"This illustrates the folly of going after information and speech to prevent crime," continued Harper. "Amy Boyer's Law has an even more tenuous relationship to protecting privacy." The Privacilla study tweaks the American Civil Liberties Union for opposing Amy Boyer's Law liberty-reducing crime-control legislation because it does not go far enough.

The Privacilla study finds scant evidence that Social Security Numbers are being used to invade privacy, and ample evidence that they are being used to commit crimes like identity fraud.

"Identification of this crime problem as a 'privacy' problem has limited the ability of policy-makers to attack it directly," the report concludes. "As either a crime-control measure or a privacy measure, Amy Boyer's Law would be ineffective, and it is thwarting progress on these serious issues."

Privacilla.org (http://www.privacilla.org) is a Web site that captures privacy as a public policy issue from a free-market, pro-technology perspective. It has been described as a "privacy policy portal" and an "online think-tank."

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