Private Companies Would Share Your Financial Information
ACLU Challenges Bill That Would Eliminate Your Privacy
The American Civil Liberties Union has joined with organizations from across the political spectrum in denouncing the privacy provisions of a pending financial services bill and calling on President Clinton to veto the legislation if it is not strengthened.A News Advisory from the American Civil Liberties Union
At any moment, a House-Senate conference committee will take a final vote on the bill, which would allow banks, insurance companies and mutual funds to affiliate with each other and to share data about you across what used to be a corporate divide. In several votes over the last week, the conference committee has repeatedly rejected strong privacy amendments.
In a letter to the conference members, the coalition called the bill's existing privacy provisions "completely unacceptable" and said it would urge President Clinton to veto the bill if it is not strengthened because it "is such an obvious assault on the privacy rights of the American public."
"This bill fails to provide the most basic privacy protections to customers whose financial records would be shared -- without notice or consent -- among the newly affiliated conglomerates authorized by the bill," said Gregory T. Nojeim, an ACLU Legislative Counsel.
"The only beneficiaries of this legislation are the banks, insurance companies and mutual funds," Nojeim added. "Consumers are left in the cold. The President should veto the bill and send it back and insist that meaningful privacy protections be added."
Here's the text of that letter:
Dear Conferees on S. 900:
We are writing to you because the current conference language on privacy is completely unacceptable. If there is no significant improvement in the consumer privacy provision, we will urge you to vote against the final conference report. The conferees have failed to agree to any of the critical privacy amendments offered by Senator Shelby and Representative Markey to ensure that the bill gives consumers control over the sharing and selling of their confidential financial information for secondary purposes.
As you know, our organizations, representing a broad spectrum of the American public, have joined together in an unprecedented coalition working to ensure that the financial modernization legislation, S. 900, includes the strong privacy protections that citizens demand. Unfortunately, the amended conference bill's weak disclosure-only requirements for affiliate sharing and most third party sharing do not meet the Fair Information Practices-based privacy platforms of either our coalition or the Administration. Therefore, we urge opposition to the current version of S. 900.
Passage of the current version will also undermine ongoing state activities to protect consumer privacy. If passed, this bill will allow banks and other firms to claim falsely that the bill protects consumer privacy, when in fact, it enshrines into law the right of financial firms to exploit and profit from the sharing of confidential and private customer information. Consumers deserve real privacy protection. Financial institutions should not be allowed to share and sell confidential customer records without consent.
If this version is reported out without stronger privacy protections, our organizations will urge the President to veto the measure because it is such an obvious assault on the privacy rights of the American public. Please also be advised that a number of our organizations have additional remaining concerns with this legislation, which we have outlined in other letters.
American Civil Liberties Union
Center for Democracy and Technology
Consumer Federation of America
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Free Congress Foundation
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
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