American Civil Liberties Union

Consumer Action

Consumer Federation of America

Consumers Union

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Identity Theft Resource Center

National Consumers League

Privacy Journal

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Privacy Times

The Named

U.S. Public Interest Research Group

OPPOSE THE GREGG “AMY BOYER LAW”

SECTION 626 of CJS APPROPS (HR 4690 RS)

RIDDLED WITH LOOPHOLES AND SPECIAL INTEREST PROVISIONS

--Won't Stop Future Internet Stalkers. Won’t Protect Privacy

17 October 00

Dear Senator and House Appropriator,

We are writing on behalf of a broad coalition of consumer/privacy/civil liberties groups to once again urge your opposition to inclusion of the so-called “Amy Boyer Law” in the Commerce Justice State Appropriations bill. Congress should not pass an eleventh hour bill riddled with loopholes and exceptions for special interests that will render its supposed Social Security Number privacy protections meaningless. Even worse, the bill would preempt stronger state Social Security Number protection. We strongly oppose this legislation.We do not believe its fatal flaws can be corrected with last minute amendments.

The bill is named for Amy Boyer, the young victim of a stalker who traced her on the Internet through a so-called information broker. Yet, the bill includes at least two exceptions that would protect information brokers, but not future Amy Boyers. First, its language exempting all uses now allowed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act creates a class of unregulated users-- the credit bureaus. These firms sell a product (containing a name, address and Social Security Number) called a "credit header" that forms the basis of many information broker databases. Second, the bill has a "commercial uses" exception that would probably sweep in information brokers, private detectives, and others whose uses should not be either unregulated or under-regulated. 

Further, the bill also would exempt from its remaining nominal protections against Social Security number display any Social Security Numbers derived from public records. This gaping loophole swallows any remaining rule. Finally, the bill would preempt stronger state laws protecting Social Security Numbers. This is unacceptable to our organizations.

We understand that Senator Gregg is considering alternative language for some provisions. The best alternative is not to establish narrower loopholes, but to simply not act at all. Instead, the Congress should come back in January and enact legislation that protects consumer privacy, and prevents future Internet stalking tragedies, instead of protecting commercial users by carving out loopholes in our privacy protections.

Sincerely,


Greg Nojeim
American Civil Liberties Union

Ken McEldowney

Consumer Action 

Travis Plunkett 

Consumer Federation of America 

Frank Torres 

Consumers Union 

Andrew Shen 

Electronic Privacy Information Center 

Linda Foley

Identity Theft Resource Center

Susan Grant

National Consumers League

Robert Ellis Smith

Privacy Journal

Beth Givens 

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse 

Evan Hendricks 

Privacy Times

Ram Avrahami

The NAMED

Edmund Mierzwinski

U.S. Public Interest Research Group