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Protecting Personal Privacy at Penn

As the University continues its efforts to protect personal privacy, the Privacy Senior Executive Committee has approved a statement of goals regarding the protection of one particularly sensitive type of data--the Social Security number. We ask that faculty and staff work with us in achieving these important objectives.

Please examine the use of Social Security numbers by your office or any unit with which you are affiliated, and make changes to help Penn achieve these goals.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact the University's Chief Privacy Officer Lauren Steinfeld, at or (215) 573-4806 or see their web site at

--Peter Conn, Deputy Provost
--Rick N. Whitfield, Vice President for Audit & Compliance

Statement of Goals Regarding Social Security Numbers

The University of Pennsylvania appreciates the importance of protecting personal information and is engaged in a number of initiatives in the area of personal privacy. Penn recognizes that one particular type of personal data--the Social Security number--is a useful way to uniquely identify individuals, but also, in the wrong hands, can be used to cause harm to members of our community.

The University's goal is to use the Social Security number as a unique identifier only when necessary to fulfill legal requirements or when there is a sufficient need, such as when certain external organizations legitimately require them. When there is such a need, Penn's goal also is to limit the availability of Social Security numbers to personnel with a need to know in furtherance of their job functions. Finally, Penn will continue to raise awareness about the risks, and appropriate uses, of Social Security numbers.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 19, January 28, 2003