Article by the Libertarian Party about 'Deadbeat Dads Database'



Bad news about the new "deadbeat dads" law: Your name will soon be entered into a massive government database, even if you're not a deadbeat -- and even if you're not a dad.

That's because a new law compels every employer in the USA to help the federal government build a massive new database to enforce child-support payment laws: The New Hires Directory.

"The first words you may hear the next time you apply for a job are: Your papers, please," said Libertarian Party Chairman Steve Dasbach. "Politicians who claimed they only want to track deadbeat dads are compiling a database to allow them to track every American worker.

"Just like in totalitarian societies, government bureaucrats will soon have the power to deny you a job, and the ability to monitor your income, assets, and debts."

The New Hires Directory was mandated by the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, and compels employers to report the name, address, Social Security number, and wages of every new worker to the state within 20 days.

States then send the data to the federal government, which matches names against its "deadbeat dads database" -- a list of every parent nationwide who owes child support.

"Federal bureaucrats will have the ability to track every American from job to job, deny jobs to people who fall behind in child support payments, and even share information with other government agencies," Dasbach said.

But those aren't the only reasons why this law should make you nervous -- even if you're not a deadbeat dad, said Dasbach. In addition:

* Such mammoth government databases are reprehensible in a free society.

"Americans who have never committed a crime shouldn't have to supply personal data to politicians for any reason whatsoever, and they certainly shouldn't haveto receive government clearance to get a job," he said.

Noting that the law authorizes child support agencies to share the database with the Social Security Administration, the Justice Department, and even the IRS, Dasbach asked, "Why would politicians who steal each other's FBI files even hesitate to trample the privacy rights of ordinary Americans?"

* It's another "just-in-case-you-commit-a-crime" law.

"Like the new federally mandated fingerprint law, politicians are demanding to enter your personal data into their computer, just in case you commit a crime," Dasbach said.

Every time a New Yorker changes jobs, for example, the State Department of Family Assistance informs the new employer about the worker's child support obligations -- even if the parent has never missed a payment. One bureaucrat bragged that "we don't give them an opportunity to become deadbeats."

"This law turns the presumption of innocence on its head and forces every American to prove their innocence to politicians, bureaucrats, and computers -- every time they get a new job," Dasbach said.

* The government will inevitably expand the scope of the legislation.

"Does anyone really believe that federal bureaucrats will use this database only to track down deadbeat dads?" Dasbach asked. "If history is anyguide, this system will soon include information on gun ownership, education records, medical histories, and anything else that prying politicians want to know about you."

* Your personal financial data may soon be available to credit bureaus and other non-governmental agencies.

Privacy expert Robert Gellman points out that private detectives already pay police and child welfare workers to illegally supply criminal, medical, and credit records, and warns that information in the New Hires Directory will become just as accessible.

But the primary reason to oppose this new database, said Dasbach, is because "the government has become so large and intrusive that soon our only protection against it may be the information that it doesn't have. If politicians really cared at all about protecting privacy,they would abolish existing databases -- rather than creating new ones."