New Bill Advances Privacy Rights

New Bill Advances Privacy, The Fight for Consumer Control Continues

Statement by Richard Holober

Executive Director

Consumer Federation of California

"Senator Speier’s new legislation represents an important step forward
for financial privacy," stated Richard Holober, Executive Director of
the Consumer Federation of California. "We support the legislation and
we will keep working to prohibit information sharing without explicit
consumer consent."

Senator Speier unveiled an agreement with financial industry
representatives for a financial privacy bill modeled on her SB 1. The
new bill has several modifications from SB 1, which died in the
Assembly Banking and Finance Committee in July. With the tacit support
of banks and insurance companies, the new bill is expected to sail
through the legislature.

The Consumer Federation of California has worked with Senator
Speier on SB 1. In recent months CFC has campaigned to place a
financial privacy initiative on the March 2004 ballot.

The legislation gives consumers the right to restrict most
information sharing after the consumer notifies the financial
institution. This is known as Opt-Out.

The financial privacy initiative would set the highest privacy
standard: "Ask my permission first." It would prohibit all information
sharing without express consumer consent. This is known as Opt-In.

"The new privacy bill gives Californians much more control over
their personal information than we have under federal law. The banks
are pushing Congress to preempt state privacy laws. This legislation
sends an important message to Congress not to meddle with state privacy
laws. At the same time, we are disappointed that the ballot initiative
is unlikely to go forward if the legislation is signed," Richard
Holober stated.

"The Consumer Federation of California applauds Senator Speier
for her tireless work to protect consumers. We will continue working to
build on the proposed law, and to stop Congress from preempting
California privacy law," Holober said.