Social Security number for iPhone activation

After reading this article, “Before you activate your iPhone, read this!“, I feel like I violated my age-old, number one caveat for myself: never give out my Social Security number. It’s the key to my identity, my financial and my governmental life.

CNet’s Michael Tiemann said in that article, “Which is why the iPhone activation mechanism is so troubling, because it compels people in the heat of the moment to do something they should never do if given a moment’s thought.” Yikes…that was exactly my predicament (the heat of the moment) since I got to the Apple Store just before they ran out of a new shipment, I bought one for my daughter as well and we had limited time, so I quickly put both of our SSN#’s in anyway.

Mobile telephony providers ask for either a SSN# or a Tax ID# (for a business) and I’ve always abhored both practices. With AT&T’s collaboration with the NSA over domestic spying, I’ve now handed myself over willingly to some database of theirs (though how trivial would it be to be on one anyway?).

Here’s what’s different: an unprecedented level of tracking that’s possible with today’s technologies. The justification for triangulation of your mobile signal to cellular telephone towers; Global Positioning system; hardware and chip unique identifiers so your actual device can be tracked; are just a few of the reasons why this is disconcerting.

The argument from the uninformed is, “Well….if you don’t have anything to hide there shouldn’t be a problem, heh?” falls on my deaf ears. The reason is that I’m an intellectually curious guy and read stuff online that may be construed as subversive (one example is Cryptome) and who knows if I went to that site, surfed to conspiracy, bomb making and Aryan Brotherhood sites if I somehow wouldn’t end up on a watch list. It would be trivial to track me.

If I trusted AT&T, Apple, our own government or the frickin’ boneheads who allow people to download and take with them millions of identities I’d be less concerned….but I don’t and I am concerned.

About Steve Borsch

I'm CEO of Marketing Directions, Inc., a trend forecasting, consulting and publishing firm in Minnesota. Prior to that I was Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Lawson Software in St. Paul where I was responsible for all partnerships at this major vendor of enterprise resource planning software products and services. Read more about me here unless you're already weary of me telling you how incredible and awesome I am.


  1. I agree. It’s not right. In Massachusetts we no longer use SS# for drivers licenses.

    I’m with you.

    Nice blog by the way…


  2. Steve,

    Thanks for the kind words about this blog…especially from a guy I’ve now learned is a frickin’ one man media machine! YOU have great stuff, my friend.

    Subscribing back at ya.

  3. Charles Wildbank says:

    I agree about never giving away my social security number except to my bank!
    This is not looking good in America.
    This would impact the sales of iphone for sure, not worth our privacy being taken away from us.

Leave a Comment