Federal Agencies' Joint Request for Comment: Alternative Forms of Privacy Notices


The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) requires financial institutions to give customers annual notice of how personal information is collected and disclosed, and, under limited circumstances, a means for customers to control information flow. The notices delivered to consumers, beginning with the effective date of July 1, 2001, until now have generated substantial criticism from all interested parties. As the ANPR notes, there have been broad-based concerns expressed by representatives of financial institutions, consumers, privacy advocates, and Members of Congress.

In response to numerous concerns expressed by all stakeholders about privacy notices, the FTC convened a workshop in December 2001, just five months after financial institutions were required to send the initial privacy notice to customers. To further address these continuing concerns, the Agencies have published the ANPR. That the Agencies are willing to revisit the issue of clear notice to consumers by considering a short-form notice is an encouraging sign for consumer privacy interests.

Financial Privacy Notices: Shorter is Better


For business, the goal should be not only to provide a notice that satisfies the legal requirement, but one that consumers can easily understand. Although practices may vary from company to company, the bottom line is always the same: Companies either share information with affiliates and third parties or not. Consumers either have the right to opt-out or they don't.

Poll: 91% Voter Support For Financial Privacy Initiative


A public opinion poll commissioned by the Consumer Federation of California Education Foundation found overwhelming voter support for a ballot initiative to protect the privacy of consumer financial information. After hearing a battery of arguments against the initiative, voter support stood at 91 per cent. The poll found no significant difference in support by party affiliation or income level.

San Mateo Co. (California) Board of Supervisors Unanimously Adopts Financial Information Privacy Ordinance


Redwood City - The Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted an ordinance today to protect consumers' financial information privacy. With this ordinance, San Mateo County has become the first jurisdiction in California to provide consumers privacy protections in excess of those found in federal law, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This ordinance would require financial institutions to ask for and receive consumerís permission before disclosing consumerís confidential information to third parties.

North Dakota Votes for "Opt-In" Financial Privacy


On June 11, 2002, voters in North Dakota spoke overwhelmingly in favor of financial privacy. A referendum which would prohibit banks from sharing, selling or otherwise disclosing personal financial information succeeded by a majority of three to one. This confirms what polls have been telling us for years. Consumers feel strongly about privacy, particularly when it comes to the sensitive information in bank records.

2001: The GLB Odyssey -- We're Not There Yet: How Consumers Rial Privacy Notices and Recommendations for Improving Them


Given the complexity and limitations of GLB's privacy provisions, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) undertook a major project to educate consumers about the new law and their right to prevent information sharing. The PRC launched this project with the premise that such an educational program would fill the gap left by questions unanswered from consumers' review of the notices required by GLB. Instead, what we found was that the majority of consumers who contacted us had heard or read media stories about the GLB notices and realized they had ignored the notices that their financial institutions had mailed to them in previous months. Few of the consumers who contacted us had actually noticed or read the notices. They were worried that they had missed the opportunity to prevent the sharing of their customer data with other companies.

Confusing E-Mail about Opt-Out Number Sends the Wrong Message


An unknown individual has broadcast an electronic mail message that has reached tens of thousands of consumers, confusing them with information that is only half correct.

The message explains, erroneously, that as of July 1, 2003, "the four major credit bureaus in the US will be allowed . to release your credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers..... to anyone who requests it." This is not correct.

July 1st Privacy Notice Deadline is For Banks, Not Customers


Financial institutions have until July 1, 2001, to send privacy notices to their customers. The notices are required by the Financial Services Modernization Act, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act or GLB.

"Consumers have a continuing right to opt-out," said Tena Friery, Research Director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. "This applies even if notices have been lost or, as is quite common, mistaken for "junk mail" and thrown in the trash."

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