It was a busy week for executive committee members of ISPLA who walked the halls of Congress, promoted ISPLA-PAC activities, and joined other members who were attending the 28th Intellenet Annual Conference being held in Washington, DC.
ISPLA board member Jim Olsen, of Texas, Psarouthakis of Michigan, and ISPLA Director of Government Affairs, Hulme, of New York, attended the April 13, 2011 hearing on “The Role of Social Security Numbers in Identity Theft” held before the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security chaired by Rep. Sam Johnson [R-TX- 3]. Hulme had previously testified before this same subcommittee on SSN-use issues associated with ID Theft. Testifying witnesses appeared on behalf of the Office of Administration and the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration, and the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection of the Federal Trade Commission.
Chairman Johnson and Rep. Lloyd Doggett [D-TX-25] then introduced HR 1509, the “Medicare Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2011” to amend Title II of the Social Security Act to prohibit the inclusion of Social Security account numbers on Medicare cards. As we expected, this legislation does not affect our profession. However, should ensuing legislation in this subcommittee be directed towards any restrictions that might affect the use of credit headers, we were assured that ISPLA would be provided an opportunity to give input.
While “hitting Capitol Hill” we also met with staff of Senators John McCain [R-AZ] and John Kerry [D-MA] regarding their Kerry-McCain Bill S799, the “Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011.” This bill would apply to any firm that “collects, uses, transfers, or stores covered information concerning more than 5,000 individuals during any consecutive 12-month period.” Such information includes names or addresses or social security, credit card, or phone numbers or biometric data. The 44-page bill would require the notification of consumers in clear language whenever their data is being collected, and ensure that their information safe from hackers.
Recently, millions of consumers were exposed to the risk of email swindles after a massive security breach by Epsilon, an online marketing firm that handles email marketing lists for hundreds of clients. Companies, including non-profits, that collect information about consumers over the Internet or otherwise, including search engines, telephone companies, and cable companies, will fall under the provisions of this proposed bill. The bill states “The ease of gathering and compiling personal information on the Internet and off, both overtly and surreptitiously, is becoming increasingly efficient and effortless.”
Should this bill be enacted, it would require companies to inform consumers the reason that data is being collected, with whom it will be shared, and how it will be safeguarded. The companies would also have to allow consumers to opt out of some data collection, and the consumers must agree, or opt in, to the collection of sensitive data such as medical conditions.
Rep. Cliff Stearns [R-FL-6] has also introduced legislation on the same topic, but not as a companion bill to the above.
ISPLA also met with staff of Representatives Hansen Clarke [D-MI-13] and Pete Sessions [R-TX-32]. They were each recipients of ISPLA-PAC donations in the 111th Congressional race this past fall. No other political action committee representing our profession made any donations during the 111th Congress according to FEC filings. ISPLA’s present proactive legislative agenda included meetings with representatives of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding several matters of mutual concern.
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