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Public Statements

Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LUETKEMEYER. Thank you, Chairwoman Capito, for yielding.

Also, I want to thank Mr. Sherman for his fine remarks. We certainly will take no offense to a recorded vote and will not oppose that. We understand and support collegiality among ourselves, especially in this time when it seems to be more partisan and toxic than it is friendly, so no problem there, Representative.

I rise today in strong support of H.R. 5817, the Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act. I introduced this legislation earlier this year in an effort to reduce yet another unnecessary burden facing consumers and financial institutions alike.

Under current law, financial institutions of all sizes are required to provide annual privacy notices explaining information sharing practices to all customers. Banks and credit unions are required to give these notices each year even if their privacy policies have not changed in the slightest. This creates not only waste for financial institutions, but confusion among and increased indirect cost to consumers.

H.R. 5817 would require institutions to provide privacy policy information to their customers only if they've changed any policy or practice related to that customer's privacy. This bill would eliminate millions of costly, confusing, and often ignored mailings that cost millions of dollars to produce each year. And with passage of this bill, information included in these mailings would likely be more significant to the consumer because they would only come after a change in the privacy policy.

Again, I want to remind my colleagues that this legislation specifically ensures that a financial institution cannot be exempted from annual privacy notices if that institution changes in any way its policies or practices related to the disclosure of nonpublic personal information.

This legislation is supported by Independent Community Bankers of America, the Credit Union National Association, the American Bankers Association, and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, among others.

Again, I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Sherman) for his fine support and his good work on this issue. Also, I want to thank Chairman Bachus, Ranking Member Frank, Chairwoman Capito, and Ranking Member Maloney for their assistance in ensuring that this legislation passes without delay. This commonsense legislation has garnered widespread bipartisan support, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting its passage.

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Mr. LUETKEMEYER. I thank Chairwoman Capito.

I would like to respond to some of the comments that have been made. First, I want to thank the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Markey) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton) for their work on the privacy notice and protection of our private information. I think it is extremely important, and I applaud those efforts, and I support those efforts.

If you will look at this particular bill, this is not an effort to thwart any sort of ability for people to protect their private information. Within the privacy law, there are all sorts of other protections. So it doesn't change one single dot of an I or a cross of a T on the rest of the notifications there, whether it deals with the kind of information you can collaborate on or the different kinds of information that you can be a part of.

All it does is just say that the notification that is supposed to be required annually is not made unless there is a change.

The gentleman from Massachusetts made some comments with regards, Madam Speaker, to the amount of mail that he gets from the banks. That's not necessarily something that is the compliance area; it's called marketing. Whenever they're trying to market for their credit cards or market for their services, that's part of their marketing budget. That's where those dollars come from to be able to do those things. That's part of being a business.

When it comes time for an individual to be notified of changes, such as you merge another bank or another institution with others and you're one of the individuals whose institution was bought out, you will receive a new notice because obviously there will be a change in the information that's going to be held by the banks. You'll be notified of that because it is a significant change.

I'm not sure that the gentlemen that spoke in opposition have quite thought through their arguments. Basically, all we're doing is allowing for some bookkeeping things to be done here. We're not impacting the individual's privacy at all. I think if you went on the street and you asked 10 people whether they thought this was a good idea or not, I guarantee there would be at least nine, and probably one would say, I can take it either way. I don't see any opposition from the consumers themselves whenever they're actually paying for these notices through higher charges through their bank accounts.

I think that there is a lot of good we're trying to do here. We're not trying to change the world. All we're trying to do is continue to protect the integrity of the information the banks and credit unions are holding on these individuals and provide for the ability of those institutions to do it in a more effective and cost-effective manner.

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