Today, I got my social security card. (Yes it is as ugly as in the picture...)

This, however, is no big secret. Almost every American has one.

Social Security Card

The bigger secret is the number itself. Being discovered by "bad guys", they can do quite a bunch of bad things concerning identity theft. Therefore it is a sensitive document, and you don't want to carry it around. And you don't want arbitrary people know your number. Maybe your employer. Maybe your bank. But nobody else. Especially not the bad guys mentioned above.

Considering this, it is impressive that you are asked for your SSN almost everywhere. I don't really get why some companies should need it, but they ask for it nonetheless. Being an international student is usually a good excuse not to have one, however it is strange how easily this sensitive data is asked for and written down everywhere.

If I read it right, once upon a time even the "student ID" number at Oregon State University was derived from the SSN.

For my job however I have to inform the university administration of my new SSN now. But I kind of hesitate to send it via plain text email. - "No problem!", you would guess, "as a facility that has to handle sensitive data every day, they surely have a bunch of GPG public keys (or something else) for their employees. I mean, they must be interested in the privacy of their students!"

But no, no, you might have anticipated what comes now: Of course they do not have GPG keys for us to use, of course they want me to send my sensitive data via unencrypted email, and of course they have no clue why plain text emails are bad.

Surprising? No.

Sad? Kinda. :-/

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