The Tradeoff between Privacy and Openness in Employment Screening


We have heard from several individuals who have described their experiences with background checks that retrieve wrongful criminal records. Even after they have informed the employer that the background report is in error, they've learned that it's too late. The employer has moved on to another applicant, or perhaps is so risk-averse that the employer does not want the hassle of dealing with someone with a tarnished record, even though it's erroneous.

Keeping Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) Private: Comments to the FCC


Consumers expect that their telephone calling records will remain private and unavailable to third parties without the customer's knowledge and authorization. Yet, it is clear that this expectation is unrealistic, evidenced by the findings in the Petition for Rulemaking submitted to the Commission by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).3

EPIC's Petition as well as recent news reports, state and federal legislative proposals, and government lawsuits against data brokers all point to a disturbing situation: Not only are current safeguards for customer calling records inadequate, but those that exist are being blatantly ignored.

Comments Submitted to the Internal Revenue Service: Disclosure and Use of Tax Preparation Data Notice 2005-93 and REG-137243-02


At no time is one's expectation of privacy greater than with tax preparation. The proposed rules address privacy concerns in some important ways by requiring consumer consent where none was previously required. At the same time, the rules open the door for far more insidious privacy invasions by allowing tax return information to be used for marketing and shared by preparers with "any person."

Comments to the Federal Communications Commission Regarding Implementation of The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005


Fifteen years ago when Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), it made what seemed an unambiguous declaration: Unsolicited advertisements to fax machines were prohibited without the recipient's prior express permission. Clear though it sounds, the public's efforts to stop unwanted fax solicitations have had a long and tortuous history. The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 creates a loophole that will surely reverse even the modest progress made against unwanted junk faxes.

Comments Regarding Federal Trade Commission Proposal to Continue to Conduct Surveys of the Public on Identity Theft


The Commission's 2003 survey found approximately 10 million identify theft victims in the prior year. Before the 2003 survey was released, annual victims were estimated at between half to three quarters of a million per year. These earlier estimates, everyone with any knowledge agree, grossly underestimated the scale and impact of this crime. The 2003 survey sounded a wake-up call. Still, we are not convinced that a complete picture of identity theft is known.

Comments to Federal Agencies Regarding the Use of Personal Medical Data by Financial Institutions


When it comes to privacy, consumer expectations and fears are most elevated for sensitive data included in medical records. A major concern is potential secondary uses of medical information. For example, a consumer may understandably be concerned that a medical condition could adversely affect the ability to get a job or a mortgage. In recent amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Congress acted to address the discriminatory use of medical information in credit transactions.

Groups Warn of Privacy Risks in Employment Screening


Terrorist threats, workplace violence, and reported abuse of vulnerable segments of the population have contributed to a dramatic increase in criminal records checks. Advances in technology have also made criminal history checks faster, less expensive, and easy to obtain from a variety of sources.

Existing problems in the employment screening process - particularly with accuracy - can lead to chronic unemployment or dismissal from a longstanding job. The job applicant or employee has virtually no rights to have an adverse decision reconsidered, even when decisions are based on inaccurate information. Any standards for access by private employers and commercial data vendors must go beyond the current requirements of the FCRA.

Regarding the Privacy Implications of the Proposed National Health Information Network (NHIN)


The proposed National Health Information Network embodies a presidential mandate to bring information technology to healthcare by making complete patient records available to providers, regardless of location.

In responding to the questions asked in the RFI, we will discuss matters of privacy and security, and also whether standardization of healthcare information may ultimately be detrimental to patient treatment.

Privacy Groups Urge Federal Reserve Board to Protect Consumers from Identity Theft and Stolen Convenience Checks


As the Board is well aware, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that identity theft claims nearly 10 million victims annually, costing millions to consumers and business alike. Significantly, a high percentage of identity theft complaints involve fraudulent use of open-end (revolving) credit products, particularly credit cards. Unsolicited credit products such as convenience checks and activated cards sent through the mail create opportunities for theft. For this reason, we limit our comments here to questions posed by the Board that have broad implications for victims of identity theft.

Criminal Identity Theft in California: Seeking Solutions to the "Worst Case Scenario"


Criminal identity theft occurs when an imposter gives another person’s name and personal information, such as a Social Security number, driver’s license number, and date of birth, to a law enforcement officer upon arrest or during an investigation. Or the imposter may give to law enforcement a counterfeit driver’s license or identification card containing another person’s information.  Read Beth Given's presentation at the Identity Theft Summit in 2005.

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