During a quick campaign swing through Los Angeles on Thursday, Vice President Al Gore proposed a law to make it illegal to sell Social Security numbers, advocating further efforts to prevent identity theft.
After touring the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department training academy in Whittier, Gore announced that the Justice Department submitted legislation to Congress on Thursday that would make it a civil and criminal offense to sell or purchase Social Security numbers, which are now widely available through Internet search companies.
Gore called for greater efforts to protect electronic privacy and promised, if elected, to make the "Social Security Number Protection Act of 2000" law. The bill was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).
"Most people are not aware that this new vulnerability is out there, but this kind of data peddling is all too common," said Gore, speaking in the outdoor courtyard of the academy before hundreds of deputies in beige uniforms.
Gore was joined at the event by the parents of 20-year-old Amy Boyer, who was fatally shot Oct. 15 outside her Nashua, N.H., office by a stalker who found her by buying her Social Security number online.
Liam Yoens, 21, who had extensive Web sites devoted to his obsession with Boyer, his former classmate, was able to buy her Social Security number for $45, then locate her office and stake it out.
"It's actually obsene [sic] what you can find out about people on the Internet," he wrote on one of the Web sites.
Later Thursday, Gore helped raised $500,000 for the Democratic National Committee, attending two fund-raisers hosted by Indian American supporters and other contributors.
Today, he plans to visit Washington state, where he will attend an environmental event and address the U.S. Conference of Mayors.