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Credit Act Threatens State's New Privacy Law

November 24, 2003

Re "Opposition to Credit Act May Prove Costly," Commentary, Nov. 16: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and I are not holding up the legislation that would reauthorize the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This legislation has passed the Senate and needs to be reconciled with similar legislation that passed the House before it can go to the president for his signature. Sen. Boxer and I do oppose this legislation for one simple reason: It would undermine the privacy rights of 36 million Californians.

The legislation would roll back key provisions of California's landmark privacy law, SB 1, giving Californians the right to tell large financial institutions that they cannot share their most sensitive personal information. This information could include the cash you have in the bank, a list of all your credit and check transactions, your stock trading patterns and the names and locations of the stores where you purchase goods. During Senate consideration of the bill, Sen. Boxer and I offered an amendment to create a strong national standard to give consumers more choice in how their personal information is shared, but unfortunately this amendment was defeated -- in part due to the intense lobbying of the financial industry.

Ultimately, despite the fact that we support efforts in this bill to combat identity theft and improve consumer access to credit report information, Sen. Boxer and I believe that it does not do enough to protect consumer privacy. That is why we voted against it.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein

D-Calif.

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