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  • YOUR LOUISIANA CONNECTION
    NCISS LEGISLATIVE UPDATE from Eddy McClain The 106th Congress is considering several measures which would have a severe and chilling effect on the ability to
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 16, 1999
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      NCISS LEGISLATIVE UPDATE from Eddy McClain

      The 106th Congress is considering several measures which would have a
      severe
      and chilling effect on the ability to conduct lawful investigations for
      legitimate business purposes.

      It is highly likely that the 106th Congress will act on Internet and
      privacy
      legislation for several reasons. Recent publicity over the sale of
      photo ID's
      on drivers licenses has rekindled some interest; the European Union
      continues
      to pressure the U.S. negotiators to limit access to personal data; and
      the
      Federal Trade Commission is in the process of reviewing compliance with
      the
      "voluntary effort." The White House has just appointed a new "privacy
      czar",
      Ohio State law professor Peter Swire. This is a concern because
      privacy
      advocates are reportedly high on him. In Congress, we are seeing a
      return of
      some of the same legislation that concerned the investigative community
      last
      year ----and the legislators are still pushing hard. There is good
      reason to
      be vigilant this year, but NCISS cannot do it alone with meager funds
      and a
      reluctance on the part of most investigators to join as members and
      donate
      money for lobbying.

      Here are some of the highlights of pending measures:

      Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) of impeachment fame has introduced HR 97
      "Personal
      Privacy Protection Act" , a papparazzi bill which is the mirror image of
      the
      infamous"Burton Bill" that CALI just successfully amended. Although the

      intent is to limit the papparazzi, the language cries out for
      clarification
      that would not make federal criminals of investigators for doing their
      lawful
      work. CALI was able to insert language that did this for the most part
      (CALI
      is still trying for one more amendment) before the bill became law. In
      California, the legal community alerted the insurance industry that this

      legislation could be a problem. Although the problem was all but
      eliminated
      by the amendments, the prospect put a damper on surveillance assignments
      and
      we are still trying to educate the carriers. If passed in its present
      form,
      HR 97 would sound the death knell for surveillance.

      Rep. Bruce Vento, (D-MN) has reintroduced HR 313 "Consumer Internet
      Protection
      Act of 1999" which would prohibit disclosure of "personally identifiable

      information." This bill did not pass in the last session. The House
      Commerce
      Committee will hold hearings on this bill.

      HR 367 "Social Security On-Line Privacy Protection Act of 1999 by Rep.
      Bob
      Franks (R-NJ) is very similar to HR 313. And on the subject of social
      security, Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) who is chairman of the Ways and Means
      Subcommittee on Social Security announced in February that he will hold
      hearings this year to be sure the identifier is not being misused. The
      GAO
      (General Accounting Office) issued their report in February which
      outlined the
      many uses to which the SS number of about 227 million individuals is
      being
      put. We can expect some effort to put that genie back in the bottle.

      HR 220, the Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act of 1999 by Rep. Ron Paul
      (R-
      TX) would essentially end the use of Social Security numbers for I.D.
      purposes
      other than in the SS system.

      Last year, Congress came close to enacting the "Financial Information
      Protection Act" which would have made it virtually impossible to
      lawfully
      obtain customer information from financial institutions, whether
      obtained
      directly or from outside sources. This legislation has been re-
      introduced in
      the House in the form of HR 30. The bill is sponsored by the Chairman
      of the
      House Banking and Financial Services Committee, Jim Leach (D-IA).
      Senator
      Sarbanes, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban
      Affairs Committee, has introduced a bill with the same name, but S 187
      is
      substantially different than HR 30, adding many restrictions on
      financial
      institutions. On March 12, 1999, Representative Jim Leach added HR 30 as
      an
      amendment to the giant financial services bill, HR 10. This is the same
      thing
      that happened last session when HR 30 was numbered HR 4321. HR 10 has
      now
      been sent to the Commerce Committee. Literally millions of dollars have
      been
      spent on lobbying the financial services legislation over the past 20
      years,
      but it failed to pass. The stickiest hurdle ahead seems to be on the
      Senate
      side which has a different version that the President says he will veto.

      Senator Gramm is at the helm and the Senate is divided along party
      lines.

      HR 30, now part of HR 10, makes it a federal crime to obtain financial
      information by pretext from either a financial institution or one of its

      customers and it is the reaction of Congress to the publicized tactics
      of
      information brokers. Mr. Leach issued the following press release:
      "For the first time, consumers will be given the right to know
      what financial
      institutions do with their private financial information and the right
      to have
      their medical records remain private. In addition, for the first time,

      federal criminal penalties will be levied against those who use
      fraudulent
      means to obtain private financial records of Americans." Although NCISS
      and
      others have continued to explain the need for a means of locating
      assets
      hidden by criminals and other miscreants, thus far, there seems little
      concern in Congress for the rights of creditors who are also
      "Americans." In
      their eyes, the purpose is not sufficiently noble to justify the use of
      subterfuge, even though no one is injured except the criminal or the
      dead
      beat.

      In California, State Senator Steve Peace has introduced SB 129, " The
      Personal
      Privacy and Information Act of 1999" which provides that no information
      of any
      kind could be collected without permission of the subject and only then
      after
      informing the subject of their rights and what the information might be
      used
      for. Senator Peace sees no need for records, credit or otherwise, and
      advocates we adopt the European model to protect privacy. His bill
      calls for
      a "privacy ombudsman" to be appointed who would oversee the collection
      of
      information. If such a bill can pass in California, the danger is it
      could
      spread to other states or spread without the California amendments as
      happened
      with the papparazzi legislation. And as soon as the FTC report on
      voluntary
      compliance comes out, we can expect Senator Feinstein (D-CA) to
      reintroduce
      her legislation of last year.

      As mentioned in the beginning, the only way NCISS can make a dent in
      these
      bills by our lobbying is by having the resources to hire lobbyists to
      augment
      our grass roots efforts. Every NCISS member must pass the word that
      contributions to the NCISS Legislative Fund are critical to our survival
      as a
      profession. Even $25 will help, if everyone contributes.

      Eddy McClain NCISS Legislative Committee

      Please send your donations of $25 or more made out to NCISS Legislative
      Fund
      to:

      NCISS
      908 21st Street
      Sacramento, CA 95814

      Contributions will be acknowledged in the NCISS Report. If you would
      like to
      join NCISS, call Sharon Hilke at (800)445-8408 and she will send you an
      application. The dues are $125 per year and you will receive the NCISS
      report. The current issue contains much more detail about the above
      legislative issues and other matters.

      A final word:

      NCISS is not some outfit of other guys who will cover our backsides in
      Washington, even if you don't help out. NCISS is you and I and if you
      put
      your shoulder with mine to the wheel, we can accomplish much. And if
      you can
      afford to send more than $25, please accept my thanks.

      Ed McClain





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