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View Diary: Data Grab? Experian now controls web access to Social Security Admin (322 comments)

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  •  Do you really want to know what the big (12+ / 0-)

    problem with this is?

    This is just another instance of something that didn't have to be privatized being privatized because it's cheaper and more expedient and it feeds that narrative that "the government can't do ANYTHING right, the private sector ALWAYS does it better."

    Well, no it doesn't and some things, like Social Security, a lot of us believe the government has been a huge success at. Many people don't believe that government services, info and such, should be outsourced or privatized.

    If the government knew they needed this, then they should have trained for and made it so, in house.

    I shave my legs with Occam's razor~

    by triv33 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:07:16 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  really, the private sector doing everything... (8+ / 0-)

      better is the very definition of a right wing meme.

      There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

      by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:11:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree except for "being privatized (7+ / 0-)

      because it's cheaper."

      That's a right-wing talking point, or meme that politicians of all stripes love to spout.  Don't fall for it.

      This is being done for reasons of conservative (libertarian) ideology.  Just like the rest of the 'fiscal crises hysteria' is intended to frighten folks into allowing the PtB to do what they would NEVER normally get away with--eviscerate the social safety net.

      It is almost ALWAYS MORE EXPENSIVE WHEN FARMED OUT TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

      For instance:  Medicare vs Private Health Insurance.

      Mollie

      “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

      by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:41:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  nonsense (0+ / 0-)

      SSA does not believe they have the ability to verify you online. They are happy to do so in person. For the past 10 years SSA provided almost no online services because they couldn't solve the problem of verifying your identity to their satisfaction. Their problem is not their own capabilities, but their security standards (which may well be unreasonably high).  Call me when the IRS  allows you to log in an view your past years' returns. Or when the Census lets you see your own responses from 30 years ago.

      To your general point, it is obvious that every government should not try to maintain expertise that they buy cheaper and better elsewhere. Why should the government run a software company at SSA? Should they employees their own

      •  Nonsense? (5+ / 0-)

        Bullshit.

        I shave my legs with Occam's razor~

        by triv33 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:51:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Let's just stipulate (0+ / 0-)

          That you have no knowledge of the SSA-Experian arrangement. OK?

          You have no idea of how much it would cost SSA to do this to their own satisfaction.
          You have no idea how much this arrangement is costing them.
          You have no idea how much SSA will save in front-line in-person service costs over the future if they can stand-up their on-line services effectively.

          Just so we are both clear:
          You have no idea about any of the facts in this case.

          What we do know is: You "don't believe in privatizing any part of any government services ever."

      •  yeah, i think they should. given that SS, Medicare (8+ / 0-)

        Medicaid etc, as well as IRS docs et al are all government programs, wouldn't it make sense for the government to work to develop a security system that they could use for all government run programs?

        does that not make more sense?

        surely, since we put money into development for things like say, the space program and the internet, why on earth is putting money into developing something that would be very usable security wise so out of the question?

        why?

        There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

        by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:57:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  allow me to answer the question. big business (8+ / 0-)

          give the money to the politicians; the politicians in turn direct business their way.

          the politicians are invested in NOT having government develop much of anything.

          There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

          by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:59:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The answer (0+ / 0-)

          First, Government agencies with sensitive information for the most part do not share it with other government agencies. That includes SSA, IRS, Census, CMS.

          Second, SSA has it's own very high security requirements. Why? Because they are a very conservative organization. They think if they screw up, Congress will murder them. So they are intent on not screwing up.

          Clearly they have created a security hurdle that is much higher than say banks have for allowing you to access and spend your actual money. They have set a security hurdle that is too high for them to adequate address with their own data and IT infrastructure.

          •  so then we invest the money into developing (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nchristine, triv33, m16eib

            a security system that can be used individually by other departments.

            if the private sector can develop one, so can the public sector.

            saying that government can't is untruthful. saying the government won't is probably more what you're meaning. and to that i say pshaw!

            There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

            by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:54:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If that was how government worked, great (0+ / 0-)

              No one said SSA can't do this. I said they decided that could not do it to their own satisfaction. That was their decision. Then again they are happy to verify you in-person.

              For whatever reason they were willing to do somethings by mail, than they are willing to do online.

              OK so you are a smart person: what pieces of information should SSA require to verify your identity online and give you access to your records?

              As a thought experiment think about how anyone can really know you are who you say you are?

              •  The very same can be said of Experian - (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                triv33, poligirl, m16eib
                OK so you are a smart person: what pieces of information should SSA require to verify your identity online and give you access to your records?
              •  someone higher up should tell them to... (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                m16eib, JesseCW, triv33, nchristine, angel d

                do it to their satisfaction instead of outsourcing something like this to a company known for fuckups.

                i worked around programmers and in IT for a good decade and if someone really wanted to have better security developed, they could.

                i think this was the easier decision for them - a decision to move some off of their plate. which is understandable. but, what i'm saying is that for things as important as SS - and i would daresay you probably think of SS as important - that we should never pass the buck to the private sector. and we should certainly be able to develop better security than the private sector, even at a high bar.

                i understand you're saying that this was the government's choice and why the government made that decision. i am telling you that in my opinion, the government's choice is piss poor, both in deciding that they didn't want to bother with/spend money developing a high bar security system AND the decision to outsource to Experian, of all places.

                There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:29:53 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think you are missing something (0+ / 0-)

                  SSA has no problem keeping your records private.

                  SSA has no problem verifying your identity. They do it all the time in person. IN extreme circumstances they will actually verify a person's identity and cut them a check right there and then (as they did after Katrina, along with a note form the president of BoA and The Secretary of the Treasury attesting to any bank that the check was in fact authentic)

                  What they don't have confidence in is verifying your identity online in real-time. They can't just say Oh fuck it, it's good enough for us. They think if they screw up--if some perpetrator of domestic violence somehow accesses the SS records of his spouse who has taken refuge in some undisclosed place, and then tracks her down and commits an act of violence--there will be hell to pay before congress. The public will demand they shut down online access, after all they have 1500 storefronts, etc... That's how they think.

                  Anyway, so what is this high bar security system going to consist of. They can ask you about your name, birth date, SSN, mother's name, place of birth. they can ask you to verify your social security wages from your w2 for any year you worked. What if they decided that is not enough?

                  They cannot verify your address, or phone number. They don't know if you are married, or if you own a house or have a bank account or credit card. I think they know the name of your employer. Not entirely sure.

                  •  you are not understanding me. i am not... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    triv33, Sharon Wraight

                    arguing that SSA can provide that level now and is choosing not to. and i am not arguing that SSA has a problem with keeping records private.

                    what i am saying is that gatekeepers by nature, no matter how stringent, have access, at least some, the the gate; they could not gatekeep if that was not so.  and what i am saying is that if SSA cannot secure access enough to pass muster themselves they should not  farm out security even for access; they should say "fuck it" and not do it at this time.

                    as for what a high bar system includes, well, i'm not a programmer, so i'm not going to speculate what is possible. but clearly there are a lot of people, including myself, who have been victims of Experian's special brand of misinformation, so much so that trusting them as gatekeepers is a very questionable idea to many of us. makes one wonder how they got the contract and what type of bidding process was undertaken to decide who got it.

                    There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

                    by poligirl on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 01:09:36 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  No, their standard isn't TOO high, it's based (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poligirl, triv33, m16eib

            upon data that is not always 100% accurate.

    •  We're in big trouble if the richest country in (7+ / 0-)

      the world, supposedly the richest, can't secure and validate information for a program that's been in place for 76 years and has to pay such a fucked up private sector business like Experian to do it for them.

      How many bedrooms in your home?  You've got to be kidding.  That's really secure, huh?

      Go back to mailing the information through the government mail system until they can figure out this newfangled Internet that just went online yesterday.

      •  Concur. Go back to mailing annual statements. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gooderservice, poligirl, triv33, m16eib

        Is the SSA unaware that NOT EVERYONE even has a computer, or access to one.

        And, does the SSA want folks who don't have a personal computer to go down and use a computer at the public library for this sensitive type of information?  For Pete's Sake, what were these folks thinking.  

        Saving money on government mailings was part of Bowles-Simpson's recommendations.  Guess they thought they had to act immediately.

        Just found an AARP article.  Stopping the mailing of the benefit statements saves a paltry 60 million per year.  Bet it pales compared to what they pay Experian.  Here's the link.

        This was an ill-conceived policy change.  And clearly, the concern was NOT saving money.

        Mollie

        “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

        by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:09:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The point your made is much, much bigger than (6+ / 0-)

          that.

          Is the SSA unaware that NOT EVERYONE even has a computer, or access to one.
          The private sector is NOT, I repeat NOT creating the infrastructure to bring high speed Internet access to EVERYONE no matter where they live in the U.S.

          Sure, if you're wealthy and want to pay thousands of dollars for the wire/cable to be run to your home from the nearest junction, sure.  

          Private sector companies won't do that because it's too costly to run the wire in rural areas.

          So when information from the government is only available online, it's just wrong, wrong, wrong.

          And OT, an elderly retired neighbor of mine who worked for local government recently had their health benefits change to be run by the state.  I accompanied him to a meeting where they were explaining what the changes were and yadda ya.

          They handed out  three pieces of paper when we walked in, mostly advertising the different companies, and there were representatives from the health insurance companies from which to choose that spoke.

          All these people kept saying one by one, to find out about this, go to this website, to find out about that, go to that website and so on.

          During the question and answer period, several elderly people stood up and stated they didn't have computers, so how could they find out this information.

          All of the responses were:  Go the library or get someone who has a computer to help you.

          I can't tell you how pissed I was listening to this shit, and I mean shit.  That's bullshit.  I felt so bad for these people who were being given these answers by healthcare insurance company representatives who kept smiling.  Bleh.

          And the people attending lived in an area where everyone had access to the Internet... if they could afford it and actually had a computer.

          And then there is the other issue of if you do have a computer, even if you're going to a "safe" site, that doesn't mean there aren't any keyloggers or malware on your computer to capture the sensitive information.

          This just stinks all around.

          (Sorry... stepping down now.)  

          •  Actually, thanks, gooderservice. Said it better (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            triv33, gooderservice, nchristine, m16eib

            than I could.

            We have a couple of very elderly aunts who do not have computers (one was childless, and other has three sons, none of which have home computers).  The sons can well afford a computer, but simply have no use for them.  [They also don't allow TV's in their homes, because they think they're a bad influence.]

            My point being that there are folks (including the three men who are younger than Boomers, sorry, not sure what that generation is called) that don't have one, whose close relatives don't have one, and for whom going to the public library to use one at ages 94 and 99, would be quite ridiculous.

            Thank you for sharing your experience with the insurance company reps.

            It's appalling to me that our government shows such insensitivity to the most vulnerable, and in some instances, the most economically hard-pressed members of our society.  

            Really, it's quite chilling.

            Mollie

            “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

            by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:44:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Your bet (0+ / 0-)

          "Just found an AARP article.  Stopping the mailing of the benefit statements saves a paltry 60 million per year.  Bet it pales compared to what they pay Experian.  Here's the link."

          OK so what do you think they are paying Experian?

          Do you think this information is public?

          Do you think SSA might be planning to save on other online services?

          How much do you plan to bet?

      •  You are confused about what Security means (0+ / 0-)

        They are happy to verify you in person. The problem they have is doing it online.

        After Hurricane Katrina, when people lost everything., They set up shop in shelters and issued people temporary ID based on data only they had in their system (and only they could access in a practical way). They were the only government agency capable of doing this.

        Currently SSA can give you an estimate of your benefits based on your earnings history, without all the rig-a-ma-roll.
        http://www.ssa.gov/...

        They can take your application for retirement or disability benefits (DI not SSI) online.

        What they are unwilling to do is potentially compromise your personal earnings record information online unless they are convinced they can verify your identity online. That is they set their own standard for security extremely high.

        The problem is not that they are unsecure. It is that they want to be more secure than is perhaps reasonable.

        •  Quit your insults. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poligirl, triv33, m16eib

          I'm not confused because I won't adopt your bullshit. Sorry, ain't happening.

        •  then make them secure. PERIOD. do not... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gooderservice, triv33, m16eib

          outsource this shit.

          i don't know how much clearer we can get here.

          There’s a word for the people who keep complaining that the “ideologues” are getting in their way: Lobbyists. ~ RJ Eskow

          by poligirl on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:56:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is a no brainer. Yet for some reason (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poligirl, triv33, m16eib

            there are Experian champions.  Go figure.

          •  Your social security records ARE secure (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            m16eib

            Maybe too secure if people are having so much trouble accessing online what used to come in the mail.

            Why is this confusing?

            •  It's not confusing - Experian does not have (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              triv33, m16eib, poligirl

              100% accurate data in their system.  Experian is wanting answers based upon that data in their system.  Experian will not release, nor change, what information they have on you, even when you have a lawyer tell them it's not correct.  How difficult is that to understand??

              Their 'security' questions are based upon faulty data and some data that most reasonable people would not be expected to remember (when did you get your first credit card??? - who really knows that answer and why would they want to remember something that trivial??).

              •  Right (0+ / 0-)

                So the problem is not that Experian authenticates people who it should not (unless someone can somehow guess the inaccurate data they maintain), but that it falis to authenticate people it should. In other words, SSA by accepting Experian's verification is keeping some data private (from the person who record it is) when it should not.

                In this case you can go directly to SSA and they will authenticate you in person. No need to go through Experian at all. In fact you can do that directly and never bother with Experian in the first place. Is that a pain? Yes. Of course a few years ago you still had to go to an office in person to file for benefits. You still have to go in person to get a replace SS card

                The alternative is that SSA simply authenticates you online using the information they have. and the real-time response capability they have. Their concern in this case however is that they will in fact authenticate some people who they should not. (Once you log in they offer you the choice to use an additional layer of security, each time you login in they text you a code, and you have to enter it). And that they will reap the negative repercussions of that. Of course it is true that someone could spoof the Experian screen, but SSA thinks it is harder to do that.

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