OTHER VIEWS: Breach shows need for major changes

  • Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:23 p.m.

Gov. Nikki Haley has finally admitted the state is at fault for the data breach that leaves almost all South Carolinians vulnerable to identity theft.

At first, the governor insisted there was nothing the state could have done to prevent computer hackers from breaking into state Department of Revenue computers and stealing the financial data of millions of Palmetto State taxpayers. Recently, she admitted that wasnít true. The state could have done a much better job at securing and encrypting data.

The governor even chose a scapegoat for this fiasco. The executive director of the Department of Revenue will be stepping down.

But 5.7 million South Carolinians will spend the rest of their lives double-checking their bank accounts and their bills. We can change our credit cards and banks, but our Social Security numbers are on the black market and can never be fully retrieved.

The state is offering a year of identity theft protection and lifetime fraud resolution, but thereís no way to get back the private data thatís now changing hands among thieves worldwide.

And itís only a matter of time before this happens to another state.

South Carolina, other state governments and the federal government need to look at their revenue model. The current system forces citizens to give the government documents with every bit of information that identity thieves want and then places those documents in a computer system, where it becomes an irresistible treasure trove for thieves.

It is no coincidence the thieves who stole this data have our Social Security numbers, our birth dates, our addresses, our credit card numbers and our bank account numbers. The state requires us to provide this information. And the state then allowed thieves to steal it. ...

This security breach should push state and federal officials to examine possible replacements for the income tax. They can make us less vulnerable and more free by extricating the government from the detailed oversight of our individual financial lives.

A flat tax, an additional sales tax or a value-added tax could substitute for the current unsafe, complex and intrusive tax system.

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