[Politech] Replies to N.Y. blood center requires SSN to donate [priv]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Tue Apr 27 2004 - 21:08:55 PDT

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    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: [Politech] New York Blood Center requires SSN to donate
    Date: 27 Apr 2004 13:13:20 -0400
    From: John R Levine <johnl@private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    References: <408E893A.9030404@private>
    > Unfortunately, the [New York] Blood Center refused to accept my blood
    > without also taking my Social Security number.  As a result, they got
    > neither.
    I have been arguing with blood banks about this stupid rule for a decade,
    but I've always gotten them to back down due to my utter inability to
    remember my SSN and the fact that none of the cards in my wallet that
    might have my SSN, such as my driver's license and my Blue Cross card,
    have it either.
    In Boston a decade ago, they made up an identifier from the first three
    letters of my last name and my date of birth.  That worked fine until I
    donated in Philadelphia which couldn't deal with letters, so they took
    blood with no number for a while until they mailed me a card with a five
    digit number padded out with zeros to look like an SSN which I used for
    many years.  Now I live in upstate NY and the NY/PA blood bank has
    sensibly sent all of its donors an attractive card with a six digit donor
    ID number which they use.  Their computer may think that my Philly number
    is my SSN, but I don't care.  (I always made it clear that was an ID
    number, not my SSN.)
    The really stupid thing about using the SSN is that it utterly fails to
    serve the Red Cross' purpose, to screen out people with HIV and other
    conditions that make them unsuited to donate.  Why?  Because they make no
    attempt to verify it.  If I had AIDS and wanted to give it to as many
    people as possible, I'd donate every seven weeks and make up a different
    SSN each time.  I mean, really, duh.  How could they tell?
    The six digit donor ID is a much better ID because the Red Cross doesn't
    really care who I am, they care that I'm the same person who claimed to be
    me last time, and the donor ID card verifies that reasonably well.
    One of the fixed axioms of bureacracy is that it doesn't occur to them
    that bad guys won't play by their rules.  They may invent a procedure to
    keep people from breaking one rule, but people who break one rule will
    break other rules, and are not all so dim that they won't figure out what
    the procedure is for and circumvent it.
    John Levine, johnl@private, Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for 
    Information Superhighwayman wanna-be, http://iecc.com/johnl, Mayor
    "I dropped the toothpaste", said Tom, crestfallenly.
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: [Politech] New York Blood Center requires SSN to donate [priv]
    Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 14:00:02 -0400
    From: dan@private
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    CC: politech@private
         I went today to do my civic duty by donating blood -- the New York 
         Center is calling for 2000 donations each day to make up a blood
         shortage in this area.  Unfortunately, the Blood Center refused to
         accept my blood without also taking my Social Security number.  As a
         result, they got neither.
    They have asked for this for years, years,
    and years.
    --dan, 6x/yr donor
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: [Politech] New York Blood Center requires SSN to donate [priv]
    Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 12:27:45 -0400 (EDT)
    From: Jon Abolins <jda-ir@private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    Just a quick note: The SSN has been a general sought for blood
    donations in the USA as a way of dealing with HIV infections and such.
    The SSN is a crappy and problem-laden method of locating bloody donors
    indeed. Some references...
    CFR Title 20 section concerning Social Security Administration and the
    Disclosure of Official Records & Information (section 401.200) at
    http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/401/401-0200.htm  Item (c) does
    say "A State or an authorized person in the State may require a blood
    donor to furnish his or her social security number when donating blood."
    Doesn't require the SSN, just allows the use.
    It seems that various states' laws do address the SSN and blood donations.
    Some, like Indiana's <at
    http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title16/ar41/ch12.html> require the
    donor to give name, address, and date of birth but state that the blood
    center shall request the donor to supply the SSN. It doesn't require the
    donor to give his or her SSN.
    It appears that the absolute requirement to give an SSN when donating
    blood in the USA may well vary with the location.
    NOTE: I am not an attorney.
    J.D. Abolins
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: NY Blood Center & SSNs
    Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 19:10:10 +0200
    From: Peter Kaiser <la--a@p-k.ch>
    Reply-To: la--a@p-k.ch
    To: talcottk@private
    CC: rjones@private, declan@private
    Kelly --
    Not to mention that the SSN isn't unique, and (officially) never was 
    intended as an identifier.
    This is a problem well known to Congress which, in its wisdom, it has 
    chosen to ignore, ever since
    the first serious study in 1974.  Yes, this has been known for thirty years.
    But it's unconscionable to pretend that it's a unique identifier, or 
    that it can't be forgotten,
    mistaken, or faked, when lives depend upon the outcome.  Shame on the 
    blood center!
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: [Politech] New York Blood Center requires SSN to donate [priv]
    Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 10:24:17 -0700 (PDT)
    From: Bob Kirkpatrick <bobk@private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    References: <408E893A.9030404@private>
    An interesting post, but it ignores some important points. Blood bourne
    disease is in epidemic proportion in the US with hepatitis leading the
    list. All forms (A, B, C and their varied genotypes) are passed through
    the exchange of blood and transfusions used to be a fairly common vehicle
    for contamination. Since the identifier programs began in the 1990s, the
    incidence of contaminated blood has dropped radically. Considering
    that many forms of these diseases are fatal, that's a good thing indeed.
    A unique identifier that isn't local and does not expire and is not
    replacable is the only way to make identification reliable. The SSN is
    about the only identifier that will work unless an entirely new system is
    devised. The cost of that (on many levels) would be high, and lead to
    exactly the same concerns that people might have about their social
    security number.
    While blood donation occurs on a local scale, it's implications are
    national and even global. When a call for blood goes out, it gets
    answered by localities everywhere. When a contamination occurs, it is
    absolutely critical to be able to trace back to patient A in order to get
    the supplies reverified. Otherwise the only thing to do is discard all of
    the donated blood as suspect. That does no one any good and costs lives.
    Considering that lives are the key element here, if someone sees such a
    grave risk in a completely voluntary act, they shouldn't volunteer. No one
    is making anyone donate blood. It isn't a civic duty, it's an act of
    kindness and sharing.
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: [Politech] New York Blood Center requires SSN to donate [priv]
    Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 10:48:40 -0700
    From: Steelhead <bill@ries-knight.net>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    CC: Steelhead <bill@ries-knight.net>, <talcottk@private>, 
    <rjones@private>, <DonorOps@private>
    References: <408E893A.9030404@private>
    I just called my local blood bank, http://www.deltabloodbank.org , where I
    am a regular donr, and they have a different approach.  Some donors do not
    have a SSN so they will use "Legal Name" "Birthdate" and "secondary ID" such
    as a credit card etc.
    I can appreciate the difference in issues, however, with a population base
    in our city of only 250k in Stockton, CA vs the 10's of millions in
    Urbanized New York and New Jersey, and think it is not a bad idea, as a way
    of protecting the blood supply.  If you have a beter choice or solution,
    please offer it to them.  I am sure it would be good to use, but that would
    need something like a biometric id ... expensive, and more risk if the info
    gets out.
    *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
    Bill Ries-Knight   ***   Stockton, CA.
    Please donate blood.
    You will be glad someone else did when you need it.
    My views on spam and SCO
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: [Politech] New York Blood Center requires SSN to donate [priv]
    Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 11:52:59 -0700
    From: Alan Thompson <alan@private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>, <politech@private>
    References: <408E893A.9030404@private>
    I'm not sure if Kelly is aware of the thousands of organizations that use
    individual SSN #s for a primary key or unique identifier.  Using the SSN
    number as a unique identifier for organizations to track their constituents
    is a convenient, if perhaps lazy, method for these
    organizations/companies/schools/banks/etc.  I would not find fault the Blood
    Bank of NY as much as I would with the SSN Administration or Congress for
    not already having a law on the books preventing companies and organizations
    from using the SSN in this way.
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: [Politech] New York Blood Center requires SSN to donate [priv]
    Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 17:15:46 -0500
    From: Andrew G.Feinberg <andrew@private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    References: <408E893A.9030404@private>
    	Here where I go to school in Madison, WI, I had a protracted argument
    with the campus blood donation center (run by the Red Cross) over this.
    When I pointed out that they were not an agency allowed by law to
    demand my SSN, they relented and gave me an unique ID, with sincere
    apologies from a supervisor who was more familiar with the law. Perhaps
    the donor should try another blood bank run by the ARC, since they seem
    to have a clue and some respect for privacy.
    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
    deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    - Benjamin Franklin
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