On Wednesday, January 6, 1999. U.S. Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)
introduced the Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act of 1999. This act:
1. Forbids the use of the Social Security number for purposes unrelated to Social
2. Forbids any two government agencies from using the same numeric identifier
3. Forbids any government agency from issuing any standards for identification that
would have to be followed by any other government agency, a private party, a state
government, state agency or political subdivision of a state (government agencies could
use IDs only to carry out their congressionally assigned purpose.)
4. Forbids the federal government from conditioning the receipt of federal funds on a
state, state agency or subdivision of a state's adoption of a uniform identifier.
5. Forbids the federal government from assigning ID numbers to investigate, monitor,
oversee, or regulate a transaction between private parties not involving the government.
It also forbids the government from using ID numbers for purposes of administrative
simplification. Here is Congressman Paul's statement on this bill from the Congressional
FREEDOM AND PRIVACY RESTORATION ACT -- HON. RON PAUL (Extension of Remarks -
January 06, 1999)
HON. RON PAUL in the House of Representatives
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 6, 1999
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Freedom and
Privacy Restoration Act of 1999. This act forbids the federal government from establishing
any national ID cards or establishing any identifiers for the purpose of investigating,
monitoring, overseeing, or regulating private transactions between American citizens. This
legislation also explicitly repeals those sections of the 1996 Immigration Act that
established federal standards for state drivers' licenses and those sections of the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that require the Department of Health
and Human Services to establish a uniform standard health identifier.
The Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act halts the greatest threat to liberty today: the
growth of the surveillance state. Unless Congress stops authorizing the federal
bureaucracy to stamp and number the American people federal officials will soon have the
power to arbitrarily prevent citizens from opening a bank account, getting a job,
traveling, or even seeking medical treatment unless their "papers are in order!"
In addition to forbidding the federal government from creating national identifiers,
this legislation forbids the federal government from blackmailing states into adopting
uniform standard identifiers by withholding federal funds.
One of the most onerous practices of Congress is the use of federal funds
illegitimately taken from the American people to bribe states into obeying federal
dictates. Perhaps the most important part of the Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act is
the section prohibiting the use of the Social Security number as an identifier. Although
it has not received as much attention as some of the other abuses this legislation
addresses, the abuse of the Social Security number may pose an even more immediate threat
to American liberty. For all intents and purposes, the Social Security number is already a
national identification number.
Today, in the majority of states, no American can get a job, open a bank account, get a
drivers' license, or even receive a birth certificate for one's child without presenting
their Social Security number. So widespread has the use of the Social Security number
become that a member of my staff had to produce a Social Security number in order to get a
fishing license! Even members of Congress must produce a Social Security number in order
to vote on legislation.
One of the most disturbing abuses of the Social Security number is the
congressionally-authorized rule forcing parents to get a Social Security number for their
newborn children in order to claim them as dependents. Forcing parents to register their
children with the state is more like something out of the nightmares of George Orwell than
the dreams of a free republic which inspired this nation's founders.
Since the creation of the Social Security number in 1935, there have been almost 40
congressionally-authorized uses of the Social Security number as an identification number
for non-Social Security programs!
Many of these uses, such as the requirement that employers report the Social Security
number of new employees to the "new hires data base," have been enacted in the
past few years. In fact, just last year, 210 members of Congress voted to allow states to
force citizens to produce a Social Security number before they could exercise their right
Mr. Speaker, the section of this bill prohibiting the federal government from using
identifiers to monitor private transactions is necessary to stop schemes such as the
attempt to assign every American a 'unique health identifier' for every American--an
identifier which could be used to create a national database containing the medical
history of all Americans.
As an OB/GYN with more than 30 years in private practice, I know well the importance of
preserving the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship. Oftentimes, effective
treatment depends on a patient's ability to place absolute trust in his or her doctor.
What will happen to that trust when patients know that any and all information given to
their doctor will be placed in a government accessible data base?
A more recent assault on privacy is a regulation proposed jointly by the Federal
Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office
of Thrift Supervision, and the Federal Reserve, known as "Know Your Customer."
If this regulation takes effect in April 2000, financial institutions will be required
not only to identify their customers but also their source of funds for all transactions,
establish a "profile" and determine if the transaction is "normal and
expected." If a transaction does not fit the profile, banks would have to report the
transaction to government regulators as "suspicious." The unfunded mandate on
financial institutions will be passed on to customers who would have to pay higher ATM and
other fees and higher interest rates on loans for the privilege of being spied on by
Many of my colleagues will claim that the federal government needs these powers to
protect against fraud or some other criminal activities. However, monitoring the
transactions of every American in order to catch those few who are involved in some sort
of illegal activity turns one of the great bulwarks of our liberty, the presumption of
innocence, on its head. The federal government has no right to treat all Americans as
criminals by spying on their relationship with their doctors, employers, or bankers. In
fact, criminal law enforcement is reserved to the state and local governments by the
Constitution's Tenth Amendment.
Other members of Congress will claim that the federal government needs the power to
monitor Americans in order to allow the government to operate more efficiently. I would
remind my colleagues that in a constitutional republic the people are never asked to
sacrifice their liberties to make the job of government officials a little bit easier. We
are here to protect the freedom of the American people, not to make privacy invasion more
Mr. Speaker, while I do not question the sincerity of those members who suggest that
Congress can ensure citizens' rights are protected through legislation restricting access
to personal information, the fact is the only solution is to forbid the federal government
from using national identifiers. Legislative "privacy protections" are
inadequate to protect the liberty of Americans for several reasons.
First, federal laws have not stopped unscrupulous government officials from accessing
personal information. Did laws stop the permanent violation of privacy by the IRS, or the
FBI abuses by the Clinton and Nixon administrations?
Secondly, the federal government has been creating property interests in private
information for certain state-favored third parties.
For example, a little-noticed provision in the Patient Protection Act established a
property right for insurance companies to access personal health care information.
Congress also authorized private individuals to receive personal information from
government data bases in last year's copyright bill. The Clinton Administration has even
endorsed allowing law enforcement officials' access to health care information, in
complete disregard of the fifth amendment.
Obviously, "private protection" laws have proven greatly inadequate to
protect personal information when the government is the one providing or seeking the
The primary reason why any action short of the repeal of laws authorizing privacy
violation is insufficient is because the federal government lacks constitutional authority
to force citizens to adopt a universal identifier for health care, employment, or any
other reason. Any federal action that oversteps constitutional limitations violates
liberty because it ratifies the principle that the federal government, not the
Constitution, is the ultimate judge of its own jurisdiction over the people. The only
effective protection of the rights of citizens is for Congress to follow Thomas
Jefferson's advice and "bind (the federal government) down with the chains of the
Mr. Speaker, those members who are unpersuaded by the moral and constitutional reasons
for embracing the Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act should consider the overwhelming
opposition of the American people toward national identifiers. My office has been
inundated with calls from around the country protesting the movement toward a national ID
card and encouraging my efforts to thwart this scheme. I have also received numerous
complaints from Texans upset that they have to produce a Social Security number in order
to receive a state drivers' license. Clearly, the American people want Congress to stop
invading their privacy. Congress risks provoking a voter backlash if we fail to halt the
growth of the surveillance state.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I once again call on my colleagues to join me in putting an
end to the federal government's unconstitutional use of national identifiers to monitor
the actions of private citizens. National identifiers are incompatible with a limited,
I therefore, hope my colleagues will join my efforts to protect
the freedom of their constituents by supporting the Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act of