You are here

Unofficial Opinion 97-2

Unofficial Opinion 97-2

January 16, 1997
To: 

Representative
District 37

Re: 

When requesting a student's social security number, local school districts must tell the student whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, what use will be made of it, and by what authority the number is requested.

You have asked for an opinion regarding whether the Privacy Act, Public Law 93-579, Section 7, is still valid and whether it applies to require local school boards to inform students whether disclosure of their social security numbers is mandatory or voluntary, by what authority the school is requesting the number and what use will be made of it.

The Privacy Act was enacted by Congress in 1974 and it provides, inter alia, that "[a]ny . . . local government agency which requests an individual to disclose his social security account number shall inform that individual whether that disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, by what statutory or other authority such number is solicited, and what uses will be made of it." Privacy Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-579, § 7, 88 Stat. 1896, 1909 (1974). That provision has not been repealed or declared invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction. Therefore, it is still valid. See Sweet Home Chapter of Communities for a Great Oregon v. Babbitt, 17 F.3d 1463, 1471 (D.C. Cir. 1994).

In Georgia, a local school district is a local government agency. See O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(a)(1)(B). Cf. Foster v. Cobb County Bd. of Educ., 133 Ga. App. 768 (1975). Therefore, the Privacy Act by its terms applies to local school districts.

Based on the foregoing, it is my unofficial opinion that when requesting a student's social security number, local school districts must tell the student whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, what use will be made of it, and by what authority the number is requested.

Prepared by:

KATHRYN L. ALLEN
Senior Assistant Attorney General