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Use of computers makes personal data less secure

Heavy use of computers and widespread use of social security numbers for identification have made it easier for outsiders to get secret personal data, an official of the American Civil Liberties Union says.

The computerized data banks - maintained by banks, credit institutions, hospitals, schools, and businesses - contain medical and tax records, bank documents, credit information, driving records, and educational transcripts. Many of the listings also contain individual social security numbers, said ACLU legislative director John Shattuck.

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An agency spokesman said that a five-year modernization program is under way to upgrade and build in new safeguards to protect against tampering.

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