Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Wednesday, October 4, 2023 | Back issues
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Court Tosses Privacy Challenge Over SS Digits

(CN) - The Montana Supreme Court rejected a privacy challenge to a state law requiring Montanans to list the last four digits of their Social Security numbers when applying for wildlife conservation licenses, which are needed to buy hunting and fishing licenses.

Members of the Montana Shooting Sports Association sued the state, its attorney general, and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, claiming the required disclosure violates their fundamental right to privacy.

A district court in Missoula County sided with the state, and the high court affirmed, citing the law's roots in federal child support legislation.

The state collects the data in order to keep receiving federal funding for child support enforcement programs and public assistance programs.

"We conclude that these are legitimate state interests," Justice William Leaphart wrote. "The challenged requirement ... rationally relates to these interests because the State would lose access to federal funding and federal tools for locating parents owing child support (which in turn would be injurious to the welfare of children of Montana) if it failed to comply with the requirements."

Leaphart called the plaintiffs' privacy expectation "unreasonable," as they can avoid disclosure by applying for conservation licenses directly with the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

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