SSA employees and others who make reports to the agency IG’s hotline can trust that the disclosures they make are secure and confidential, that office has said in an online posting.
“We understand you might be sending sensitive personal information—like names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers—that could be misused if someone else were to gain access to it.We take data protection and privacy rights seriously, so everything you submit through our website is fully encrypted,” it says. “If you’re submitting a fraud allegation to us, that information will come directly to the OIG, it won’t be stolen or hacked, and it will stay with the OIG and any other authorized officials, for investigative purposes only.”
“Also, the information you provide could lead to criminal investigations of people you know or are associated with, so you do have the right to confidentiality and, if requested, anonymity,” it says—although adding that without a contact point, in some cases investigators might be hampered in their efforts.
The posting refers to a recent reportby a civil liberties group saying that the IG sites of some agencies that receive fraud allegations don’t use encryption technology, and that such protection is especially critical for whistleblower disclosures.
The administration recently ordered that all federal websites have encryption technology within two years, and the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency has said it will address that issue within the IG community in particular.