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Public Statements

Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate H.R. 749, the ``Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act,'' which seeks to eliminate wasteful and unnecessarily duplicative privacy notification requirements for financial institutions.

More specifically, H.R. 749 would amend the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to exempt from its annual privacy policy notice requirement any financial institution that:

(1) Provides nonpublic personal information only in accordance with specified requirements, and

(2) Has not changed its policies and practices with regard to disclosing nonpublic personal information from those disclosed in the most recent disclosure sent to consumers.''

Under current law, financial institutions are required to give notices to customers that delineate their information-sharing practices. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act of 1999 attempted to balance the information privacy interests of consumers with the need for financial institutions to share information for ordinary business purposes.

To that end, GLB required financial institutions to inform their customers, in the form of a privacy notice, about the types of information they collect as well as the types of businesses that may be provided that information.

In order to give the customer the choice of determining whether he or she is comfortable with the sharing of their information, the privacy notice is required to be issued upon the opening of a new account as well as once a year.

Financial institutions collect basic information from customers, such as your name, phone number, address, income, and details about your assets. Moreover, in determining whether someone qualifies for a particular product, such as a loan, a financial institution may collect additional details from other sources, such as credit reports from credit bureaus. Furthermore, some financial institutions track your use of products like credit cards and record information such as how much you borrow, how much you buy, where you shop, and whether you pay your balance in a timely fashion.

Some financial institutions share this collected information with other entities, including unaffiliated companies like retailers and telemarketers. This is why it is particularly important that customers know the privacy policies of their financial institutions; customers must make a determination as to whether they are comfortable with how their bank intends to share their information.

However, requiring financial institutions to submit annual privacy notices to customers when they remain unchanged can be considered wasteful. Moreover, because the notices must be issued with regularity, it may have the effect of lowering awareness on the part of consumers when a change to a privacy policy is in fact made.

H.R. 749 intends to eliminate this waste and potential for diminished customer awareness by removing the annual notification requirement for financial institutions, so long as the policy remains unchanged from the last notification and the financial institution otherwise complies with the requirements for notification.

For that reason, Members ought to copsider H.R. 749 in contemplation of the intent of the notification requirements in Gramm-Leach-Bliley.

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