U.S. PIRG

218 D St SE

Washington, DC 20003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 19 Dec 00

CONTACT Ed Mierzwinski, USPIRG, 202-546-9707

STATEMENT OF USPIRG

ON REMOVAL OF CONTROVERSIAL AMY BOYER LAW

FROM FINAL CONSOLIDATED CONGRESSIONAL APPROPRIATIONS BILL

"U.S. PIRG commends Congressional privacy leaders and the Administration for insisting on removing Senator Judd Gregg's (R-NH) controversial provision named for an Internet stalking victim from the final Congressional Appropriations package passed last Friday. The Amy Boyer Law actually expanded, instead of narrowed, the availability of Social Security Numbers to private detectives and other users. 

Last year, New Hampshire resident Amy Boyer was killed by a stalker who found her on the Internet. The proposal was introduced at her parents' request to restrict the availability of Social Security Numbers on the Internet. Unfortunately, companies that traffic in confidential personal information gutted the bill with numerous exceptions and loopholes that would have not only rendered its protections meaningless but actually expanded commercial availability of SSNs. Earlier versions of this Trojan Horse proposal would have also preempted stronger state Social Security Number protections.

The proposal was opposed by a spectrum of privacy and consumer organizations. We commend members of the bi-partisan Privacy Caucus chaired by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) for their leadership in opposing the proposal, which was also strongly opposed by leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee, including Chairman Archer (R-TX), Subcommittee Chairman Shaw (R-FL), and Rep. Kleckza (D-WI) and others, which had passed out of committee a stronger alternative proposal to protect Social Security Numbers, HR 4857. Other opponents of the Amy Boyer Law included Sens. Feinstein (D-CA), Roth (R-DE), and Sarbanes (D-MD). The administration was steadfast in its opposition, and sent a strong veto threat letter to the Congress.

U.S. PIRG intends to work with these and other members, the new administration and advocates to craft a strong Social Security Number privacy proposal in 2001 that preserves Amy Boyer's legacy, prevents future Internet stalking tragedies and protects confidential consumer records from sale by data dealers."

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For more information on the Amy Boyer Law and other financial privacy issues, see <http://www.pirg.org/consumer>. 

Detailed Legislative History: Senator Gregg (NH) introduced the Amy Boyer Law as a free-standing bill -- S. 2554. He then incorporated it into Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations (originally as Section 626 of HR 4690, then it became Section 635 of HR 5548). Then, HR 5548 (still containing the Amy Boyer Law) was sent to the President 15 Dec 00 as part of HR 4942.However, on 15 December 00, Congress also passed the Conference Report on HR 4577. Section 213 of HR 4577 amends HR 5548 by deleting a number of sections of HR 5548. Section 213(a)(6) of HR 4577 strikes the Amy Boyer Law (Section 635 of HR 5548). See page H12261 of the Congressional Record for 15 Dec 00. The text of the bill is in the Conference Report on HR 4577.