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Mr. MARKEY. I thank the gentleman very much.
The language which is in question here is language which was spurred by Mr. Barton and I in 1999 as part of the consideration of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill. The language for privacy, none had been included in the Senate and none had been included in the rest of the process. But as the bill came to the Energy and Commerce Committee in 1999, Mr. Barton and I, we added privacy language, believing that as companies are able to consolidate banking records, insurance records, brokerage records, the physical examinations of customers and their medical secrets, that there should be privacy here. We were no longer talking about just going into a bank and having old Mr. Wentworth there that you and your family had known your entire life, and you trusted Mr. Wentworth, and there was actually a whole long family history. That is no longer the case. We are now basically living in a world where we have moved from an era of privacy keepers to privacy peepers and data-mining reapers trying to create profiles of people, using all of their financial information as a way of basically making their companies more efficient, but simultaneously compromising the privacy of families all across our country. So, while ultimately the language which Mr. Barton and I included on the House side in Gramm-Leach-Bliley was watered down in the final compromise, that's the privacy that's in the bill.
So, one of the things, of course, that I believed and Mr. Barton believed was that people should get the information that their privacy could be compromised by these now huge mega-banks.
So what this bill is saying is, you don't have to notify people of that each year. You don't have to tell them. If they didn't figure that out when the bank first signed you up as a company, they never have to tell you again because they notified you once right there in the beginning.
Ladies and gentlemen, the amount of information which we get at home from these banks, massive, as you know. You open up your mailbox every day, and there's like 25 solicitations from financial institutions all across the country. They've got loads of money to do that, loads of money. You look at their TV commercials, loads of money. ``You're in safe hands when you give your family's wealth over to this financial institution.''
But if you ask them to just provide a scintilla of information on what privacy rights they have in terms of protecting all of their family secrets inside of that financial information, the banks say, Oh, no, that's too expensive. We can't do that. How can you afford that?
So this just gets right back to the same argument that we had during Gramm-Leach-Bliley, the same exact debate, the same exact terms. And all I can tell you is, there's a looming privacy catastrophe coming in this country. People just don't understand the full consequences of what this new cyberworld makes possible in terms of the compromise of information.
You know, when you're writing out the information to buy the Ritalin for your child, that's a check that the bank has. There it is. You haven't told anyone else in your family that you have a daughter who needs it. All of this has to be told to the public on an ongoing basis.
I urge a ``no'' vote on this suspension.
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Mr. MARKEY. For the record, for anyone who's listening, the American Civil Liberties Union opposes this; the American Library Association opposes this; the Consumer Union opposes this; the Liberty Coalition opposes this; and the Coalition for Patient Privacy opposes this.
And the reason is this: You signed up with a bank 10 years ago--Megabank Inc. They sent you a privacy notice. Then every year for the next 10 years, they buy a new entity that locks right in as an affiliate. And you've already signed off on everything they do, but they don't have to notify you that this new entity, this new affiliate is going to have a totally new use for that information. But you are supposed to have already been notified in 2002.
Moreover, ladies and gentlemen, why can't they just email this notice each year to people? Why can't they just email it to people? ``Here's your privacy.'' And every year it goes out. No tree is chopped down. There is nothing done that affects the environment. Everybody just gets the email each year. ``Here are your privacy rights.'' And it goes in a separate email so that everyone is really getting the opportunity to single it out. It doesn't cost anything. It gives everyone all the information they need.
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