RI HEALTH DEPT. STOPS REQUIRING SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS

The RI Health Department started requiring patient and caregiver social security numbers on MMj applications several months ago. RIPAC believed this requirement to be a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974 and we communicated our concerns to the Department. The Department responded  stating that, “The purpose of asking for a social security number on the form was as a specific identifier.  Persons who lose their medical marijuana cards must demonstrate that they are entitled to a replacement card by demonstrating that they are in the data base.  Proof of the social security number is an expedient way to demonstrate identify.  The social security number will not be shared with any other state or federal agency and will be used solely for the medical marijuana program” .  RIPAC did not believe that the Dept.’s reasoning justified violating the Privacy Act.  The Department  agreed to drop the requirement. Providing a social security number is now anOPTION and is not mandatory. The ACLU is urging the Department to discontinue asking for social security numbers whether they are optional or not. If they continue to ask for them, the Dept. should be stating the authorizing federal law and informing patients and caregivers of how their social security numbers will be used.  RIPAC agrees.

 

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