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Cellphone Uproar Heard Across the Country

Social Security backs away from new website privacy requirement

Cellphone Uproar Heard Across the Country


The Social Security authentication requirement caused an uproar from those who don’t use cellphones.

Recently the Social Security Administration announced that it would require “two-factor” authentication on its website. The only way to access an online "My Social Security" account would be through a password and an additional code texted to the user’s cellphone.

After an uproar from some of those who don’t use cellphones, the agency used Facebook to say, never mind.

“While it’s not mandatory, we encourage those of you who have a text-capable cellphone to take advantage of this optional extra security, which has always been available,” the Facebook post said. The agency added that it was still exploring ways to beef up online security and make it harder for private Social Security accounts to be hacked.

The new policy had drawn criticism from some senior-citizen groups. And on Aug. 12, Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, sent a letter to the agency pointing out that many beneficiaries don’t have cellphones or live in places where cellphone service is unreliable. “We urge you to adopt additional identification verification methods that are accessible to a broader range of Social Security recipients while retaining essential security,” the letter said.