Security experts say most Americans are likely to have their sensitive personal information stolen at some point in their lives. Sometimes, it happens when an individual unwittingly clicks on a malicious link in an email; other times, it's a trusted retailer or health insurance provider that fails to maintain control of their customers' data. And, increasingly, government data breaches have led to massive amounts of compromised personal information.
As it becomes clear that even the government has trouble keeping data safe, a pair of House members from opposite corners of the country are teaming up to try and keep some sensitive information out of the government's hands entirely.
Reps. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida, and Jim McDermott, a Democrat from Washington, introduced a bill this month that would require the most commonly used tax forms to include a truncated Social Security number. The bill would affect W–2 tax and wage forms, which are distributed to every wage earner in the U.S. that makes at least $600 a year.
When McDermott put forward the same bill last year, it never got off the ground. But since then, a pair of data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management compromised the personal information of more than 22 million people. The stolen data included Social Security numbers, sensitive health and financial information, and more than 5 million fingerprints.