Kids Contest Could Unlock SSNs
CHILDREN’S PRIVACY—U.S.February 23, 2011
New York Magazine reports on an art contest for kids that collected personally identifiable data. "Doodle 4 Google" asked students in grades K through 12 to submit a drawing under the theme, "What I'd like to do today." Along with the submission, the parental consent form asked parents to submit their child's city of birth, date of birth and last four digits of their Social Security number (SSN). Bob Bowdon, a documentary filmmaker, said information such as birthdates and city of birth can be used to "statistically guess" an SSN's first five digits, unlocking "countless troves of personal information from someone" without their knowledge. The FTC was notified of the practice. Google has since stopped collecting the SSN data.