New York Enhances Employee And Consumer Privacy Rights Under Its Social Security Number Protection Law

Author:Mr Michael Arnold
Profession:Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Four years ago, New York enacted a Social Security Number Protection Law, N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law, §399-dd, aimed at combating identity theft by requiring employers to better safeguard employee social security numbers in their possession.  (Click here for our summary of the law).  Now, New York is going one step further with its passage of two new Social Security Number Protection laws. 

First a note: as of November 12, 2012, §399-dd – the original Social Security Protection Law – will be re-codified as new §399-ddd, and it will also add the statutory language of the first of these two new laws, which prohibits employers from hiring inmates for any job that would provide them with access to social security numbers of other individuals. 

The second law, which is codified as a separate new §399-ddd, enhances the requirements for safeguarding employee social security number while also adding similar protections for consumers.  This law prohibits companies from requiring employees and consumers to disclose their social security numbers or to refuse any service, privilege or right to the employee or customer for refusing to make that disclosure, unless (i) required by law, (ii) subject to one of its many exceptions, or (iii) encrypted by the employer.  This law also applies to any numbers derived from the individual's social security number, which means that it extends, for example, to situations where the company asks the individual for the last four digits of their number.  It is unclear whether this law will prove effective in accomplishing its objectives. 

First, it contains an exception with...

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