Oversight Hearing On Financial Privacy and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act


ongress knew that the 1999 Gramm-Leach Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act (GLBA) - a law long-sought by the financial industry to encourage the creation of integrated financial services firms -- would exacerbate already-identified financial privacy threats. So  Congress incorporated Title V to protect financial privacy, which included the following five key provisions. The most important and most successful is the last: the fail-safe states' rights provision allowing states to enact stronger financial privacy laws.

Full-Page Ad Distorts Facts about SB 773, California Financial Privacy Bill


The group's name, as well as its web site's address, www.caprivacyprotection.org, bely the Coalition's true colors. It is an industry-backed organization, comprised of the California Chamber of Commerce and the major financial industry trade associations in the state.

The Coalition's newspaper ad contains outright distortions about the provisions of SB 773. Here are some examples.

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.

Health Privacy: The Way We Live Now (Gellman)


A colleague called last week to discuss medical privacy. It was a personal matter. He recently had a medical procedure that he did not describe. He doesn't want me or anyone to know anything about his diagnosis or treatment. I didn't ask for details. For purpose of this article, I will identify my friend as Fred (not his real name).

Fred was contacted by a researcher who got his name from his physician. Fred was surprised at the call because he didn't give permission for his information to be disclosed to any researcher. It wasn't clear whether the researcher knew anything about Fred's condition. The study was designed to compare people who did and did not have the same condition so the physician may have only said that Fred qualified for the study. Fred couldn't ask more without disclosing the information that he was trying to keep secret.

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.

Identity Theft Precautions for California State Employees


The Teale Data Center for the State of California has reported a security breach in the data base that holds payroll deduction information for all state government employees. According to news reports, officials for the Data Center are quite certain that data was not removed, although they are not entirely certain. One of the data elements in the data base is employee Social Security number (SSN). The incident apparently occurred in April 2002.

Public Records on the Internet: The Privacy Dilemma


One of the most challenging public policy issues of our time is the balancing act between access to public records and personal privacy - the difficulty of accommodating both personal privacy interests and the public interest of transparent government. I will discuss the privacy implications of making public records containing personal information available on the Internet. I list nine negative consequences of the availability of public records online. I conclude by offering 11 recommendations for safeguarding personal privacy while upholding the public policy reason for providing access, that being to promote government accountability.

New Privacy Study Challenges Industry Assertions on the Cost of Protecting Consumers' Privacy (Gellman)


Robert Gellman has released a paper on the costs of NOT protecting privacy. The March 26, 2002, white paper is titled "Privacy, Consumers, and Costs: How The Lack of Privacy Costs Consumers and Why Business Studies of Privacy Costs Are Biased and Incomplete."

Privacy is an elusive, value-laden concept, and it is hard to reach consensus on a definition. In recent, self-serving studies, the business community seized upon this lack of clarity to distort debates about the true costs of privacy - costs to individuals, society and to the business community itself. These studies have led to a mainly one-sided public discussion of privacy, overstating the costs to businesses, ignoring the costs consumers incur to protect their privacy, and understating the benefits that privacy offers to commerce and to society.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Honors Pioneer Award Winners: San Francisco Ceremony for Gillmor, Givens, DeCSS Writers


The online civil liberties group chose to honor Dan Gillmor for his commitment to accurate and cutting edge reporting on cybertech issues; Beth Givens for her dedicated work in fighting for consumers' privacy rights and in raising public awareness on privacy issues; and the DeCSS Writers, to be accepted by Jon Johansen, for their pioneering work on the pivotal program that enabled the development of a DVD player that runs on the Linux operating system.

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