(From Privacy Times, February 18, 2000)
CONGRESSIONAL PRIVACY CAUCUS
On Feb. 10, two Republicans joined
with two Democrats to announce formation of the first-ever Congressional
Privacy Caucus, which most observers see as boosting the issue's
visibility on the Hill.
Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and
Richard Bryan (D-NV), and Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton
(R-VA), said their inability to add stronger privacy protections
to the Bank Modernization Bill underscored the need for an entity
that could both educate other members and advocate legislation.
The Caucus hopes to hold it first
briefing for Congressional members and staff in the coming weeks,
a source said. The four
lawmakers already have re-introduced their financial privacy bill.
In response to a "Dear Colleague" letter that mentions
the new Caucus, several members already have expressed an interest
in joining, the source said.
The Caucus subscribes to the four
principles: 1) individuals be informed when private firms or government
agencies collect and/or disclose personally identifiable information; 2) individuals have a right to access their
personally identifiable information and have the ability to correct
it; 3) individuals must consent to a private company
or government agency before it can disclose the individual's personally
identifiable information; 4) federal privacy laws do not preempt
stronger state privacy laws.
Noting their opposition to Gramm-Leach-Bliley
Bill because of inadequate privacy protections, Shelby said, "Unfortunately,
we were not able to sufficiently highlight the abuses and invasions
of privacy so as to pass legitimate privacy protections.
We believe the Congressional Privacy Caucus will help us
bring these issues to the attention of Members of Congress by holding
Congressional briefings, and by examining and recommending legislative
Markey said at a recent retreat,
the Democratic Congressional Campaign Caucus unveiled opinion polls
showing that privacy was the top issue of concern among a majority
Privacy advocates, who generally
favor legislation, lauded the move. Lisa Dean, of the Free Congress Foundation
(FCF), said, "we must rely on Congress -- not the courts or
federal agencies" -- to define Americans' privacy rights. FCF
spokesman Robert McFarland added:
"The formation of this caucus will bring privacy concerns
to the forefront and serve to move the debate in the direction of
protecting Americans' private information. Now more than ever we need legislation protecting
our privacy from Big Brother and his Little Brother in corporate
Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president
for the Direct Marketing Association, an opponent of most legislation,
said, "We're going to work with them. We will probably agree on some things and disagree
on others." Allen R.
Caskie, executive director of the Financial Services Coordinating
Council's privacy project, told the Bureau of National Affairs.
"Anytime you get a bipartisan group together working on something
and they are serious about it and want it, their concerns are going
to be taken seriously."
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle,
D-S.D., announced Feb. 9 the formation of a Senate Democratic Privacy
Task Force, to be headed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
``The issue of privacy touches virtually every American,
often in extremely personal ways,'' Daschle said in a statement.
``Whether it is bank records or medical files or Internet activities,
Americans have a right to expect that personal matters will be kept