PRC's Privacy Update No. 2, Iss. 9

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Copyright © 2004-2016
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Posted December 30, 2004

In this issue . . .

[1] “Shine the Light” Act Allows Californians to Track Sharing of Their Personal Information Starting Jan. 1, 2005

[2] FTC Wants to Allow More Pre-Recorded Telemarketing Messages: Here’s Your Chance to Speak Out

[3] Year-End Report: Make a Tax-Deductible Donation to the PRC

[1] “Shine the Light” Act Allows Californians to Track Sharing of Their Personal Information Starting Jan. 1, 2005

Have you ever wondered which company provided your name and address to a marketer after you’ve received a piece of junk mail? Now you can find out. On January 1, 2005, an important California law will come into effect. Called the “Shine the Light” Act, California Civil Code 1798.83 requires certain businesses to disclose their information-sharing practices with their California customers. Upon request, Californians can find with whom companies have shared their personal information for marketing purposes.

Companies required to comply with the new law must provide an address, email address, toll-free phone or fax number to make your disclosure request. Once a request is made, the company has 30 days to respond with the categories of personal information disclosed to third parties and a list of companies to which your personal information was shared for marketing purposes within the last calendar year.

Knowing which companies sell or share personal information with third parties helps individuals make better choices about the companies with which they do business. If privacy is important to you, you can use your buying power to support businesses that protect your personal information.

The PRC would like your help so that we can compile a list of companies' designated email addresses, mailing addresses, phone and fax numbers to which consumers can make their disclosure requests. And because we are interested in tracking the flow of personal information between companies, we’re asking you to send us copies of the responses you receive from companies when you request their disclosure statements.

Further, if you have made a disclosure request but have not received a response within 30 days, please let us know. We will let you know how you can complain to the authorities and how you can take legal action. Our contact information is at the bottom of this newsletter.

For more information about this important new right for Californians, go to:

[2] FTC Wants to Allow More Pre-Recorded Telemarketing Messages: Here’s Your Chance to Speak Out

You may not realize it, but even if you have signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry, companies with which you have an “existing business relationship” (EBR) can still contact you by telephone, including those annoying pre-recorded messages. (See our Fact Sheet 5 for more information at:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking to weaken its rules for telemarketers so that companies with which you have an EBR can more easily contact you with pre-recorded messages. If you're concerned about an increase in pre-recorded sales calls to your home phone number or cell phone, the FTC is allowing consumers to express their opinion in a public comment period. Comments are due by Jan. 10, 2005.

We urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to speak out as a consumer. The majority of comments received by the FTC will be from the telemarketing industry. You can help level the playing field by contacting the FTC online by January 10th, 2005. You can provide your comments to the FTC by going to:

Feel free to explain how pre-recorded messages have inconvenienced or harmed you. Your specific descriptions will make your comments all the more powerful.

Be aware that the FTC posts comments on its web site. If you want to minimize the amount of personal information that is publicly disclosed, you may choose to complete only those boxes on the comment form that are marked with an asterisk – last name and state. Then type your comments into the box provided to you, or attach a file that contains your comments.

If you are uncomfortable providing your comments directly to the FTC via its online format, you may direct your comments to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse ( and we will incorporate them as anonymous contributions to our own comments. Please use the words ‘FTC Telemarketing Rule’ in the subject line of the email containing the comments you would like us to send anonymously to the FTC on your behalf.

For more information on this opportunity to make public comments, see the FTC's press release at:

You can read the complete Federal Register notice regarding the proposed amendment to the Telemarketing Sales Rule here:

Provide your comments to the FTC by going to:

[3] Year-End Report: Make a Tax-Deductible Donation to the PRC

Since 1992, the PRC has been educating consumers about their rights regarding privacy and identity theft. We have also advocated for stronger privacy protection laws, regulations and industry practices. Our staff works diligently to accomplish these goals and over the years the PRC has received funding from foundations, cy pres awards, and the donations of supporters like you.

These are critical times for privacy rights, and our work is more important than ever. We invite you to make a donation to the PRC to enable us to continue -- and to expand -- our work, both in the one-to-one assistance we give to consumers who contact us with their questions and complaints, and in our ongoing efforts to strengthen laws and regulations and to improve industry practices.

You can make an online tax-deductible contribution by going to:, or by clicking the Donate Now button on our home page,, or by printing out our online donation form and mailing in your contribution:

The issues that we tackle on a daily basis include financial and credit-related privacy, identity theft, telemarketing and other issues involving telephone privacy for landlines and wireless devices, employment background checks, and privacy in cyberspace. In addition, during 2004 we also weighed in on the following issues:
-- Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags
-- Readability of HIPAA medical privacy disclosure notices
-- Outsourcing
-- Campaign donations
-- Document disposal
-- Online pharmacies
-- Spyware
-- DNA databasing
-- Wireless cell phone directory
-- Using email content for targeted advertising
-- Merchant return policies

To read our documentation on these issues, see:

We’ve also posted 9 new fact sheets on our web site in 2004, the most consumer guides we have ever released in a year, These are:
-- The amended Fair Credit Reporting Act, including free credit reports, Fact Sheet 6a
-- “Specialty” consumer reports, Fact Sheet 6b
-- Customer identification programs, Fact Sheet 31
-- Students and privacy, Fact Sheet 29
-- Debt collection, Fact Sheet 27
-- Nonprofits and online privacy, Fact Sheet 28
-- Online job scams, Fact Sheet 25a (with World Privacy Forum)
-- Check 21 and paperless banking, Fact Sheet 30
- Security of financial information, Fact Sheet 24e

Our fact sheets are carefully researched and cover all the issues we think well-informed consumers should be aware of, complete with links to government agencies and tips on how to complain about privacy abuses.

In addition, we are one of the few privacy organizations that invites individuals’ complaints and questions and that will directly intervene to help you resolve problems you are experiencing. All of this we do as a public service and for free.

As the end of the year approaches, we hope that you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to our organization to support our tireless work of protecting your privacy.

Thank you for considering our organization for an end of the year contribution.


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Copyright © 2004-2006. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse/UCAN. This copyrighted document may be copied and distributed for nonprofit, educational purposes only. For distribution, see our copyright and reprint guidelines. The text of this document may not be altered without express authorization of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. This document should be used as an information source and not as legal advice. PRC documents contain information about federal laws as well as some California-specific information. Laws in other states may vary. Overall, our information is applicable to consumers nationwide.