Data Providers Lobby to Block More Oversight

“[...] For years, fears of identity theft and improper disclosure of private information have fueled calls for tighter regulation of the mountains of personal data now electronically available to employers, insurance companies, lenders and others. Those anxieties have risen since ChoicePoint revealed last month that alleged identity thieves had duped the company into selling the names, addresses and Social Security numbers and other data on tens of thousands of people. Then last week, Bank of America said it had lost backup computer tapes containing private data on 1.2 million holders of government-issued credit cards, including most members of the U.S. Senate.

Lawmakers have tried to prevent such lapses. But ChoicePoint and others that sell personal data have aggressively — and successfully — fought legislation that might prevent unauthorized disclosures or give additional rights to consumers harmed by incorrect information [...]

These data sellers have deployed a deft combination of lobbying and industry-affiliated think tanks to head off increased oversight. ChoicePoint and six of the country’s other largest sellers of private consumer data spent at least $2.4 million last year to lobby members of Congress and a variety of federal agencies, according to disclosure forms filed with the U.S. House and Senate. ChoicePoint was the biggest spender, with $970,000 either paid to outside lobbyists or spent directly by the company [...]”

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal [subscription req'd]

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