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.

The Role of Consumer Education and Intervention in an Environment of Limited Privacy Regulation


In an environment of limited privacy regulation, consumers must be able to have access to consumer education resources as well as problem-solving and intervention services. In addition to providing much-needed assistance, such consumer education and intervention services provide the function of a societal feedback loop. The PRC acts as a feedback mechanism by obtaining information from consumers about their experiences in the marketplace.

College and University Privacy Issues: Social Security Numbers and Smart Cards


Overview: There are many privacy issues facing colleges and universities today. This presentation covers only the first two below:

  • SSNs as student identification numbers
    - Identity theft and other security issues
  • Multi-purpose "smart" cards, privacy implications
  • Violence profiling
  • Weapons searches
  • Drug testing
  • E-mail, Internet uses, websites, acceptable use policy
  • Records disclosure

The Information Marketplace: Merging and Exchanging Consumer Data


Since the mid-1990s the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has held numerous workshops and conducted important surveys on privacy in the online arena. The FTC has taken significant strides in bringing these issues to light and in framing the public policy debate. I am pleased that the FTC is now taking up the issue of offline consumer privacy issues.

Public Access to Electronic Case Files


We recognize the convenience to the courts and counsel in electronic filing, the need to reduce paper files, and the long-standing principles of public access to court proceedings. However, the PRC and EFF believe the potential for both intangible invasions of privacy by those who have no need to know and more tangible harms such as identity theft outweigh reliance on a system that provides full access to court records electronically. Convenience and storage problems in this electronic age need to be addressed, but hopefully in such a way as to protect not only the public interest by providing access to public records, but to protect privacy interests as well.

Eight Reasons to be Skeptical of a "Technology Fix" for Protecting Privacy


I'm going to begin by listing just a few of the many technology-based services that are available now or are soon to be launched. I will then list eight reasons why I am not convinced that these services are the entire answer to safeguarding consumer privacy.

Then, to close, I will discuss approaches that I believe are more likely to provide meaningful protection of our personal privacy.

Bankruptcy, Public Records and Privacy


The PRC and EFF recognize the long-standing principle that the public interest is served by open court proceedings, and that, in fact, public disclosure of bankruptcy proceedings is mandated by statute. However, we can conceive of no public interest to be served in a system that would readily subject individuals in bankruptcy to identity thieves and unscrupulous marketing. Access to an individual's personal information is obviously required in order for court personnel and bankruptcy trustees to do their jobs. But, access beyond this necessity to Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and other personal information on the Internet would seem to be an invitation for abuse.

Financial Privacy: The Shortcomings of the Federal Financial Services Modernization Act


The new federal law, the Financial Services Modernization Act, enables three industries to affiliate under one corporate roof -- banking, insurance, and securities. The Act requires that banks and financial services provide an "opt-out" for customers to restrict the sale of personal information to third parties. But it gives no ability for customers to restrict the sharing of data between and among affiliates.

Identity Theft: How It Happens, Its Impact on Victims, and Legislative Solutions


I appreciate the ability to provide written and oral testimony on the skyrocketing crime of identity theft, its impact on victims, and possible solutions. And I commend you and the Subcommittee members for addressing this issue. My written testimony is in four parts:

  • Topic number one is the crime itself - what is identity theft, how much of it is going on, and why it is happening in epidemic proportions.

  • Second, I will discuss the many ways in which identity thieves obtain the bits and pieces of information they need to impersonate others -- mainly Social Security numbers (SSN) and credit card account numbers.

  • Third, I will explain some of the impacts on victims.

  • And fourth, I will recommend legislative and industry measures to prevent identity theft and to expedite the ability of victims to regain their financial health.
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