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Letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO, Facebook - More Information on Policy of Collecting SSNs for Political Advertisers


Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

We write to request more information on Facebook, Inc.'s recently announced policy of collecting the last four digits of political advertisers' Social Security numbers (SSN). We support efforts to ensure the integrity of social media platforms. However, as the Committee with jurisdiction over the SSN, and given bipartisan concerns about the problem of identity theft, including the risk associated with SSNs being stolen, it is important for us to understand how these important numbers will be used and how they will be protected.

As highlighted at the Social Security Subcommittee's May 17, 2018, hearing on the future of the SSN, the continued use of SSNs as authenticators is both ineffective and dangerous. Authenticators based on personal information only work if that information is kept private, but hundreds of millions of SSNs are effectively no longer confidential because of massive data breaches and availability on the dark web. At the same time, the continued use of SSNs as either an identifier or an authenticator (or both) for everything from enrolling a child in school to creating a credit record is what makes them so valuable to identity thieves and cybercriminals.

To help us understand Facebook's use of this valuable personal information, please respond to the following:

What is the intended purpose of Facebook's collection of SSN information?
Since SSNs are associated with individuals and not organizations, whose SSN information do you collect when an organization seeks to place a political advertisement?
How does Facebook use this information to verify an advertiser's identity? Does Facebook verify the authenticity of the collected SSN information?
Is this information transmitted to any third parties? If so, why?
How does Facebook ensure the security of the SSN information it receives?
How does Facebook ensure the SSN information is properly disposed of following use?

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. We ask that you respond by no later than July 11, and carefully consider whether this policy is appropriate. Should you or your staff have any questions, please contact Amy Shuart, the Social Security Subcommittee Majority Staff Director, at (202) 225-9263, and Kathryn Olson, the Social Security Subcommittee Minority Staff Director, at (202) 225-4021.