In the wake of the Equifax breach and countless others compromising Americans’ privacy, one thing has become clear: It’s time to get rid of Social Security numbers.
While a string of digits on a paper card did the job in the 1930s, and got the government’s stamp of approval for identification purposes in 1972, it’s irresponsible for those nine numbers to continue to be the universal identifier for every part of our lives. We can do better; even the White House says so.
But the natural follow-up question—“What’s the replacement?”—is where things get complicated. We could have a digital, national ID card system like Estonia, but that’s proven to have its own security issues. We could use biometric technology to validate identities, using retina scans or facial recognition software, but these systems aren’t foolproof.
What about blockchain? Does the new, buzzy technology have the potential to one day replace Social Security numbers?