Home > Past Releases and Reports > Privacilla Assesses Amy Boyer's Law
For Immediate Release
December 14, 2000
Contact: Jim Harper
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
"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
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
"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
portal" and an "online think-tank."
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