[ISN] Senate Banking chief introduces privacy bill

From: mea culpa (jerichot_private)
Date: Mon Oct 05 1998 - 16:19:30 PDT

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    Forwarded From: "Spencer, Will" <wspencert_private>
    Senate Banking chief introduces privacy bill
    By Joanne Morrison
     WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A key U.S. Senator Wednesday introduced
    legislation designed to protect the private financial information of
    consumers by cracking down on so-called information brokers who illegally
    obtain it. 
     ``Consumers deserve to have their personal financial information
    protected from exploitation by 'information brokers' and other
    criminals,'' said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse D'Amato. 
     The New York Republican's bill is similar to legislation which cleared
    the House Banking Committee in August. The legislation would make it a
    federal crime to use false pretenses to gain someone's financial
     That would include misrepresenting one's identity or otherwise deceiving
    bank officers or employees, a common practice among information brokers
    who openly advertise their ability to obtain information about personal
    account balances, stock portfolios and other financial holdings. 
     D'Amato noted that recent technological changes which often benefit
    consumers, such as increased consumer access by telephone, have also made
    it easier for information brokers to collect personal consumer
     By gleaning even partial information like birth dates, Social Security
    numbers and account numbers, information brokers can gain access to
    private consumer information, he warned. 
     ``This reform bill targets con artists who steal personal financial
    information from consumers and then sell it to the highest bidder,''
    D'Amato said. 
     The bill would impose up to five years in prison and fines of $250,000
    for individuals and $500,000 for corporations. 
     Illegal information gathering has been growing as technology has improved
    access to private consumer information. Changes in the financial industry,
    with banks consolidating and getting into other lines of business, has
    also heightened the risk of consumer privacy breaches. 
     Regulators have also raised concerns about consumer privacy.  Last month,
    the Federal Reserve, Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Bureau of
    Investigation and others issued a joint warning to banks that they have an
    obligation to protect their customers' privacy. 
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