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The Almighty Buck

"Opt-Out" Of Financial Data Sharing 210

David Carver writes: "I heard about this on a local news station this morning: The Financial Modernization Act, passed in 1999, allows financial institutions to share your personal financial information to other institutions without your explicit permission. They have been required by law to inform you of your rights by July 1st. The good news is that you can choose to opt out of this, but you must notify, in writing, any bank, credit card company, etc. with which you have an account. A sample opt-out letter, courtesy of Ralph Nader, is available at privacyrightsnow.com."

michael: If you check around there have been a lot of news stories written about this law. Until this law was passed, there were laws in place that separated banks from the insurance and securities industries. That is, your bank couldn't also be your stock broker or your insurance company. The main law creating this situation was called the Glass-Steagall Act, and was passed in 1933 right in the middle of the Great Depression. Speculation in the stock market by banks was a major cause of the stock market crash of 1929, and the goal of the law was to prevent another such crash. Scores of banks failed when their stock investments turned sour at the same time as depositors wanted their money out. When these three industries are combined into single corporate entities, society is putting all of its financial eggs into one basket - a crashing stock market leads to rising insurance claims and makes the bank insolvent precisely at the time that it needs to have lots of cash on hand. We as a society have learned this lesson, and due to this law, sometime in the future we will learn it again.

Fast-forward to the present. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 got rid of most of those restrictions, freeing banks and securities firms and insurance firms to consolidate. Gramm, Leach and Bliley are three Republican Congressmen who have all received huge bribes (sometimes called campaign contributions) from the banking industry. Essentially, like the 1996 telecommunications law which paved the way for the return of Ma Bell (the seven Baby Bells have merged into four, while stifling all possible competition in any way possible), this law will eventually result in a financial services industry dominated by a very few mega-institutions. The law was written to override not only the old Federal law, but also state laws which would have prohibited these mergers. It was strongly supported by the Republicans and lightly supported by the Democrats, after massive lobbying from the banking and financial industries. The securities firms and insurance firms loved this, because "having a lot of money in your bank account" is a good indicator that you'd be willing to invest in the stock market, and now they can simply purchase the data from your bank, or better yet, merge with it, to get access. The banks loved it because insurance and securities represented new revenue streams that were previously untapped. Additionally, it allows all sorts of conflicts of interest - advising customers to buy stock in company A while the bank itself is selling it, etc. etc.

Anyway, one of the weak additions to the bill insisted on by Clinton were the provisions affecting privacy. In a nutshell:

  • Banks can share any and all information about your financial doings with any corporation that they have a business relationship with or are otherwise associated with. They can sell anything they know about you - Social Security numbers, account numbers, who you write checks to, what you buy with your credit card, etc. A Washington Post column sums it up nicely.
  • You can't opt-out of that.
  • Banks can also share any and all information about your financial doings with anyone else.
  • You can opt-out of that.
  • But the business relationship mentioned at the start could be something like "We are in business with company X for the purpose of selling your financial information", so the exception totally swallows the rule.
  • Ha-ha, you lose.

So now the deadline is approaching, and lots of financial institutions are sending out privacy notices as required by law. Some small percent of institutions are sending out opt-out notifications, allowing you to "opt-out". I believe that most institutions are not sending opt-out notices, because frankly, they don't need to - any use of your financial data can be covered under the no-opt-out-required if the bank sets it up properly. None of the several institutions I do business with provided me with any opportunity to opt-out, although all warned me that they would sell my financial information. Here's a direct quote from one:

"We do not share any personal information about you or our former members with third parties except as permitted or required by law, and as necessary for business purposes."

So they share my information "as permitted by law", for any business purpose. Translation: they promise not to violate the law, and to attempt to make money. Wow, what an incredible commitment to privacy. Of course, you might not get to this sentence if you only read the beginning of the notice, which starts out "[Bank] is committed to protecting the privacy of your personal information."

My guess is that very few of these notices contain any meaningful commitment to privacy. Read them carefully. If you get an opt-out notice, do it - it won't have any effect on what actually happens to information about your bank account, credit history, credit card purchases, etc., but the industry is using the low return rate of opt-out notices as a statement that customers don't care about privacy (when in fact, most people probably just throw away these tiny-print legalese forms). I don't really have any other advice - I very much doubt that you'll be able to locate any banking institution that would be reasonably convenient for you to deal with that will in any way respect your privacy.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

"Opt-Out" Of Financial Data Sharing

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually it takes place the first business day after July 1.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Personally, I love and hate this stuff right now (see caveats below). I'm a small business "owner", as are my parents (separate business).

    *Every* time there is something that favors big business, there is a segment of the population that gets screwed. And when they do, that opens up a new market.

    For example, Blockbuster opened in our area. Put mom and pops out of business. Blockbuster got lax and started up with bad service, no available rentals, and high return fees, now new mom and pop shops open up. They do pretty good business nowadays.

    When credit checks became the norm a decade ago, the big real estate apartment and townhouse renters in the area grew enormously. And I mean enormously--before the area was full of single family detached homes, now it's full of townhouses and apartment complexes (also due to the economy and population influx of my area). Entire swaths of farmland become renters land for a *single* real estate dealer/builder.

    What happened? The big guys got overselective. They could rifle through renter application upon application and do credit checks. Those that got "rejected" by the process, by and large, are good, decent people that have had run into some problems. So my parents get them and rent to them. Oddly, our best tenents are often the ones with credit history problems (theory is that they've learned their lesson).

    The caveats are this: There is certainly a trickle down effect from these laws. There is a population that doesn't want to deal with "big" businesses--that's why credit unions, coops, etc. have sprung up a lot more recently.

    The problem is, these laws hurt not the big guys, the middle guys--they hurt the lower end people the most. Most of the people that got rejected rental applications got so unduly--these people renting from us should really be paying their mortages for their own homes. But they can't get a loan due to bad credit, or otherwise pay unreasonable rates.

    The other problem with these laws is that it shifts power more and more to the bigger guys. Right now, there is still room in the middle. But as these laws are passed, you sit there wondering if the next law will be "any business making less than $50,000 a year is illegal." Of course, when they pass the law, it'll be something like "to do business in this area, an application must be processed which costs X amount", where X will be some unreasonable fee. Or raise property taxes with a minimum commercial district fee (which is already done, I should add). These laws will squeeze out the middle guys and make the already incredibly difficult affair of starting a business or entering the business world (for the less economicly fortunate) impossible.

    Pet peeve: I am a conservative in thought and voting. But when it comes to big business, I'm more middle. But one thing I hate from the stereotyped "liberal" viewpoint is the push for majority rules voting. I should note that the BEST defense to the worse case scenarios is a checks and balances system. If there is ever a change away from the electoral college to a purely populist (majority rules) voting scheme, your rights will be pissed away incredibly quickly. To some, this is counterintuitive. But anytime you go to a straight majority wins voting scheme, the little guys get silenced and are never even given the opportunity to talk. Think of it this way--MS has the dominant OS right now. If all the people who "voted" the MS way, everything would be MS based....as it is, we already have big business eroding our choices, I don't want to give the mass population the right to make choices over me either.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sorry, I'm pissed about this too, but what you say is not true. After a recent divorce and bankruptcy, and with unresolved IRS troubles, I have no checking account, no savings account, no credit cards. I live in Los Angeles near the intersection of two major streets that any resident would know. I work at a dot-com in the heart of Hollywood.

    I don't get paid in cash, but I don't go to a bank. I go to a check cashing service. I pay my bills (rent, utilities) with postal money orders. I bought my used car from a neighbor, paying cash over three months. I rent movies from the 20-20 Video down on the corner. Within easy walking distance, there are many mom-n-pop-type grocery stores, and some major chains. I shop at them with cash.

    I'm not saying it's nice or easy -- it isn't. And I look forward to working my way out of the hole. But I can do a lot of things. I haven't rented a car lately, but back when I was married we rented several times, paying a cash deposit instead of using a credit card (we had already lost them). You just have to shop around. There are plenty of small outfits that want your business.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    f you know of a company who doesn't comply with their posted privacy statement, then tell others! Get the word out. Form a team, a group, a society of people with like interests and let them know.
    Don't bother doing it through the Republicrats or Democricans in office.

    You sound so zippy. Did you just get out of your high school debate team meeting?

    With this very illegal bipartisan system, nothing can get done anyway. So might as well take the power of the Internet and go, man, go

    Man, oh man, you just don't fucking QUIT do you?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yeah yeah yeah... We, the individuals have the power. Boycots work. Ethical consumerism is saving the planet right now.

    Get a grip, man.
  • we now have the FDIC, which means that up to $100,000 of the money you have in the bank is insured by the full faith and credit of the US Government

    So, then, how much of what you say will really make a difference? Why in the world should I trust I'll get my $100,000 [brillig.com] back when the Fed screwed things up so much last time? Because I know we all trust the government to do the right thing, right? *cough* Social Security *cough*

  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @08:42AM (#119938) Homepage
    Very bad example. The freedom being discussed here (freedom to control your financial records) will not result in people getting killed by bad drivers.

    ::gets buried under piles of flamebaits and offtopics::

  • Find a small family run FDIC insured bank, or better yet, a credit union that promises not to do it.

    Name one.

    Oh, too bad, maybe you can't use your credit card now ...

    That will eliminate about 95% of the places you can do business.

    Do your research, stop trying to control "big business."

    Do your research and stop defending big business.

  • It's a free market, companies should be able to do what they want to do, and if you don't like it, don't use that company.

    Agreed. In principle at least. However, there are a couple issues at hand. For one, you are almost required to have a bank account somewhere. Try cashing a check that the government gives you without having a bank account in that bank or ind an employer that pays in cash (legally). One bank wanted to charge me 3 dollars! There are other issues such as Car Insurance (required by law if you want to drive). Since these are basically required, you can now advocate the government to issue some basic guidelines.

    Another example is what people call the "Information Age". It's not that we just have more information, it's that it's all about information. The government as well as basic institutions rely on identifying you by your personal information. Thus, people say that it should be offered the same protection that your body has. Imagine a someone was to create fingerprints and go all over the place placing them everywhere, while excersing individual rights to do so. Who you also say that he is within his rights, or would you prevent him on the basis of society agrees to certain laws governing their behaviour in order to live more "normally"?



    ---
    ticks = jiffies;
    while (ticks == jiffies);
    ticks = jiffies;
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:33AM (#119941)
    Note that this takes effect July 1st; *today* (June 29) is the last business day before then. Remember, don't forget about the meteor shower yesterday night!

    Fortunately, the bulk that I had to do all has 800 numbers that you called, and used an automated system to process everything. Only one (which I didn't have my customer # at the time) required an operator to complete.

  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:44AM (#119942)
    The law basically says that if you opt-out of this sharing prior to July 1st, all data about you that that institution has, past and present, is protected. After July 1st, you can still opt-out, though it might require more than just a phone call, but only data *after* the date you opt-out is protected, all previous data is fair game, including data prior to July 1st.

    In other words, *today* get on the phone and web sites and figure out how to get on the lists.

  • For example, Blockbuster opened in our area. Put mom and pops out of business. Blockbuster got lax and started up with bad service, no available rentals, and high return fees, now new mom and pop shops open up. They do pretty good business nowadays.

    The mom and pops rent porn and Blockbuster doesn't.

    --

  • Big Business wants to help its shareholders, which may number in the millions. When a big business gives $5,000,000 to a candidate, its really giving maybe $5 per shareholder, isn't it? How is that unfair?

    In two ways:

    • Shareholders are richer than average, and rich people don't deserve more political influence than poor people. If anything, they deserve less influence, since they have already gotten more out of the system.
    • The millions of shareholders have not been asked whether they want their money to be spent on a particular politician. If they wanted to support that politician, they could do that with their private money, just like they would have to in order to support Greenpeace.

    --

  • Not to mention the fact that I've been getting the notices from banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies, etc. for the past couple of months.

    Yeah... REAL timely...
  • But any European corporation caught dealing with personal information in this way is fair game, under EU privacy laws, for being nailed to a tree.

    Not that that'll happen. The EU courts have zero actual power, and the national courts are as corrupt there as everywhere else. Not that the EU courts aren't corrupt, also, they're just uselessly corrupt.

    IMHO, personal information is NOT an asset, as it is NOT seperable from the individual to whom it is attached. Unlike a wallet, or a jacket, how much money you have is how much money you have. The money can be given, but the fact simply is. It has no independent existance.

    As such, the transfer of such information is more akin to someone ripping out part of your brain and handing it to someone else, without even bothering to ask.

    IMHO, this fits firmly under the category of GBH. Rather than being exempt, financial organizations should be fined every cent they posess, have all licences revoked, and be forced to play bit-parts in Australian soap-operas.

  • Why the f**k should we have to "opt-out"? It should be "opt-in". Opt-outs are only in citizen's interests if there are a very small number of these lists. Every time a new opt-out list is created for some other type of business, the chance of people actually using the mechanism decreases. Why the hell should we do the running around to protect our privacy when really, protected privacy should be a basic right? Most people don't have the time it takes to educate themselves on *all* the things they have to opt-out from, and then actually go to the time and expense of doing it. These opt-out laws are just a cynical way of appeasing citizens without really changing much for businesses. Opt-out mechanisms are really easy for a business to implement (although, they don't always seem to work very well). If businesses want to make money from our personal information, they should work for it and do what it takes to convince us to opt-in.
  • A cleverer store would be one that says.
    "We honor all bonus cards"
    That would allow them to gather information without adding to the number of cards, and also get some idea of what other stores people use.
  • "You know, stuff like this will keep getting passed until several (hundred) congresspeople wake up and find that their bank accounts have been cleaned out, and their credit cards maxed out, because you can buy anyone's personal info for $39.95."

    Not so easy, I am afraid. Congress usually adds sections to these laws that povide special treatment for current and former members of Congress. I would be willing to bet that there is a section in this law making it a federal crime with a billion $ fine to misuse information about Congress-critters and their families. With no "opt-out", and with the burden of proof on the financial institution.

    sPh

  • "Yes, that is what I am saying, unfortunately

    IF YOU CARE, then you will have a clue. If you don't care (and don't read the 17 pages of literature that come with every account you open ANYWHERE, Insurance, Bank, Credit, etc), then you pretty much deserve to be rolled over"

    Which is exactly the sort of "war of all against all", resulting in a life which is "nasty, brutish, and short", that Thomas Hobbes cited as a legitimate reason for the weak to band together to form a government to protect them from powerful forces. Sort of where this discussion began.

    sPh
  • * You work in Los Angeles, and your employer's bank is in New York (or San Diego for that matter). Pretty long walk since you don't have a car.

    * If you establish a pattern of withdrawing cash or money orders on a regular basis, that will be classified as "suspicious activity", and you will be reported as with the single $10,000 transaction.

    Sorry.

    sPh
  • "Not really. You cannot own information, since it is not a tangible thing. Even normal ownership of physical things are just a social contract we mostly abide by. However, as a social construct I agree that corporations shouldn't share or sell information about their dealings with you"

    The problem being that the same entities which lobbied hardest for the DCMA are the ones which want to buy and sell information about you and me. So if they claim to own information, it is a bad thing to violate that claim and anyone not following rules must be prosecuted under the DMCA.

    But if I claim to own information about myself, that is also a bad thing, and I must not be allowed to place limitiation on the above organizations making use of it.

    Not sure I follow the logic there, toodles.

    sPh
  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:47AM (#119953)
    Has anyone tried sending the Nader letter to a financial institution, in place of that institution's preprinted form? What was your experience? Did you receive any sort of response, positive or negative?

    One thing that occurs to me is that most form letters I have received have included a specific address to use in returning the form (and typicall, that address is very bizarre and complex, and must be copied by hand onto a separate envelope). If you send the Nader letter to a company's general address, will it be processed, or will it just be shredded. Would it be better to send it to the address the company lists in its incorporation papers for accepting legal correspondence?

    sPh
  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @08:13AM (#119954)
    "You CAN pay cash for nearly everything. Don't get a car loan, save up $400 a month for 5 years, and then go buy a car cash, and while you drive that car for 5 years, save up another $20,000 (plus interest) to buy your next car."

    If you pay for a car that costs more than $10,000 in cash, the car dealership is required, under penalty of imprisonment, to report your purchase to the federal government. Similarly if you store this cash in a savings account (whether at Citicorp or your brother's neighborhood bank). This is because people who use cash are presumed to be drug dealers.

    And while I do understand what you are saying, I would also ask that you respond to the word "realistic" in my post. While it might be possible for a few hundred privacy nuts (such as you and I) to live this way, it isn't realistic for the majority of the population.

    Or are you saying only the really clueful deserve to be protected from forces beyond their control?

    sPh

  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:58AM (#119955)
    "Where's the problem? It's a free market, companies should be able to do what they want to do, and if you don't like it, don't use that company. Find a small family run FDIC insured bank, or better yet, a credit union that promises not to do it. If they do share, then leave."

    50 years ago, that might have been true. It was possible to live a quiet life, taking your paycheck in cash, paying rent in cash, riding the bus/trolley everywhere, shopping at the local mom-n-pop grocery.

    That is essentially no longer possible in the Western world, today. Employers no longer pay in cash, so you have to have an account with some sort of financial institution, which in turn is required to report various information about you to other organizations. Public transportation no longer exists, and where it does it doesn't reach the majority of jobs. Mom-n-pops no longer exist. You MUST have a credit card to rent a car, or even a movie.

    And so on. For any one of these actions, you could say, "Well, don't do that. Or go to another provider". But when EVERYTHING you do requires providing information, there are only a few institutions for critical services (hint: Visa), and you realistically must do certain things to stay alive, then you don't really have a choice.

    The wilds of Montana can only support a few hunderd thousand people; most of the population is forced to live where they can actually make a living. And there are no realistic options to giving up information about oneself in many circumstances. This is why people form govenrments, BTW (read Hobbes).

    sPh

  • This phone number just got slashdotted. busy signal. figures :-/
  • by alumshubby ( 5517 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:47AM (#119957)
    OK, please be patient & help me understand this. Isn't there an upside for consumers in letting the companies freely shop the data around? Aren't you more rather than less likely to become aware of errors companies have in their databases, for example? What is the potential downside of not opting out, if you don't see the companies shopping around your data as a big deal? I ask this as a guy who has bar-code tags from three different grocery stores hanging off my key ring, so they know every time I've bought a copy of Maxim from the magazine stand and the two brands of beer I like best.
  • That's actually quite an interesting notion, but if congresscritters wanted to spend most of their time in their own home districts where their constituents could come around and bug them in person all the time they wouldn't run for office in the first place.
  • Out here on the west coast several of our employees sent letters to the SF Chronicle which did do a minor write up. Also the JULY deadline is NOT for you to OPT-OUT but for the companies to notify you. You can OPT OUT at any time, that is the LAW. Believe me I share your frustration, when so many of their employees reacted badly and that did not send a message I should have known :(
  • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <treboreel@live.com> on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:39AM (#119960) Journal
    and they quietly notified us employees of this several months ago, and then seem ASTONISHED at the incredible response they received, like 85% of the employees responded in writing that they would not allow the sharing of confidential info.
    Not that it seemed to matter one bit, nor did the Management seem to learn anything. They consider your information an asset these days which is true, it is JUST YOUR ASSET not theirs. Some sharing of info MUST happen for banks and such to function, but the wholesale data marting of all your info is what NCAG is looking for, and the won't be happy until the believe they know everything about you :(
  • I got that, too, last night. I looked at the privacy stuff by following the link, but didn't click the "I Agree" link.

    This morning, my stock quotes are back. Looks like I don't actually have to agree to anything... just having viewed the page is enough. Wonderful.
  • Until this law was passed, there were laws in place that separated banks from the insurance and securities industries. That is, your bank couldn't also be your stock broker or your insurance company. The main law creating this situation was called the Glass-Steagall Act, and was passed in 1933 right in the middle of the Great Depression. Speculation in the stock market by banks was a major cause of the stock market crash of 1929, and the goal of the law was to prevent another such crash. Scores of banks failed when their stock investments turned sour at the same time as depositors wanted their money out. When these three industries are combined into single corporate entities, society is putting all of its financial eggs into one basket - a crashing stock market leads to rising insurance claims and makes the bank insolvent precisely at the time that it needs to have lots of cash on hand. We as a society have learned this lesson, and due to this law, sometime in the future we will learn it again.
    How very wrong you are. I would plead that rather than interjecting your (ignorant) editorial opinion, you might just stick to the facts.

    The GLB act does repeal Glass-Steagal. That is true. However, the cause of the depression was only proximately banks -- in fact it was the banking system, inflating the money supply wildly during the twenties. This was completely under the control of, and the fault of, the Fed.

    The effect of pumping all that new money into the system was a boom: interest rates were artificially lowered, signalling entrepreneurs that goods were needed in the future. And so the entrepreneurs borrowed money directly, or obtained money via the markets (IPOs and bonds), and built productive facilities. However, a good fraction of this production was not needed, and hence, in time, businesses failed. Recession. That recession was then plunged into depression by more bad policies of the government. The Smoot-Hawley tariff is one large culprit. Another is the fault of the Fed, which panicked and started drastically contracting the money supply. Finally there was the problem of the continuing socialist ploys of FDR. Failing businesses needed to go bankrupt, and wages needed to adjust downward, in order for the labor market to clear. But the Federal government fought such market adjustments tooth and claw.

    Meanwhile, the scapegoating search (which always follows government failure) was on, and it lit upon banks as culprits. Which is true, in the sense that they were all collectively responsible for the inflation that really caused the problem. But that's not what they were blamed for, of course. Glass-Steagal even at the time was known to be a crock. Politically popular, though. FDIC was a much more successful and meaningful intervention.

    So all those years since then, America alone in the world has forbidden itegration of the financial sector. (So contrary to our local chickens little predicting a new depression, the question must be: where were all the depressions you would have expected in every other country in the world?)

    With globalization, Glass-Steagal was finally starting to seriously affect the competitiveness of American insurance and banking. And so they agitated to get things changed. And so they did. In this case generally a good change.

  • HAHAH.

    i read your post, and then i read this [dallasnews.com]

    seems that BankOne, the owner of wingspanbank.com, decided to close it because it wasn't making enough money.

    maybe you should change banks again.
  • I don't really have any other advice - I very much doubt that you'll be able to locate any banking institution that would be reasonably convenient for you to deal with that will in any way respect your privacy.
    If you want a finanancial institution that will respect your privacy, I would suggest trying a credit union. Credit unions are generally more responsive on issues like this, since they are usually run by their members (my CU [affinityplus.org] holds elections for board members every year). Also, credit unions tend to have better rates and fee structures, since they don't have to pay profits to share holders.

    --
  • Citibank ..

    Wells Fargo...

    And I think another bank I have an account at.

    It really pisses me off that again you have to 'opt out' of this crap rather than 'opt in'.

    It should be noted that just because this is a new law does not mean that it holds any weight. If someone sews a financial institution for giving this info or selling this info away they can overturn this law. Of course there has to be 'wrongful' damage as well as proof that the company was responsible.

    The real question I have is what kind of info do they sell / trade?

    So how long do you think it will be before someone decides to pretend to be a financial institution and buys this information to use it for fraudulent purposes like identity theft? Hey in the US if they get your social security number they get your identity nowadays.

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • It wouldn't be a great leap to sell a list of 'trash producers' with total weights to marketing types since more trash means a household likely makes more purchases and is a suitable target for 'family' advertising.

    Of course, then you've got more ads to throw away, so you look like a bigger consumer, so you get more ads, and so on...

  • In America, we do vote with our dollars. But the PACs aren't voting with billions for one group, they are voting with a few dollars per member. Why is that bad?

    Because democracy was founded on the idea of one person == one vote, not one dollar == one vote. I'm certainly not thrilled with a system where Bill Gates gets several million more "votes" than I do.

  • No, "idiots like" me pay attention to the privacy guidelines we receive in the mail or get online.

    That's good... I trust you are also paying attention to the privacy guidelines that you aren't getting, because the banks have put such massive loopholes in the privacy law that they don't even feel the need to send them to you?

    Where exactly will you draw the line? If, say, companies started planting listening devices on the street in front of your house so they could learn more about you, would that be okay with you as well? After all, any sounds that come out of your house is information you are 'giving out', and they are just trying to make money, right?

  • FYI This is to stop the credit bureaus from releasing information about you for pre-approved credit offers. (888-5-opt-out) 1-888-567-8688 is the number to dial.

    For more information about this number, please see this [pirg.org] site.



    PS - God loves you and longs for relationship with you. If you would like to know more about this, please email me at tom_cooper at bigfoot dot com.
  • Thanks for the letter.... now what are you going to do about that President you put into office?

  • Hi Im Troy McClure you might remember from such posts as Why Business hates the GPL and when the hell did all of Slashdot become commies. But I want to talk to you today about decentralizing the power of our government. We have come to a point in our nation's history both politically and technologically that putting everyone together in one big place is a "bad" thing. We have advanced to the point communications wise where it makes no sense to put all our representatives in one place where they can effectively be lobbied and the views of their constituietnts be thrown by the way side. I am not calling for total anarchy; what I am calling for is a Work-At-Home program for Congress. Drag a T3 into every congresspersons and senate members office in their home state or district and have them work there. No more buddy buddy sessions with other members just plain old video conferencing. Give them the resources to still do their job (legislation hunting, underlings, a nice office), but all in the home district.

    I predict if this were used that the will of the people of the district and the lobbying efforts of many orgainzations on BOTH sides of the aisle would be curtailed dramatically.

    Just a thought,
    HT
  • I work for someone, sure. I also get paid justly for it. I do not feel that I am in a master/servant relationship, nor am I treated as such. I have the option of going into the bush and fending for myslef, but I choose not to. I pay my taxes willingly, for the most part, because I believe in such things as universal health care, a social safety net, good roads, and organized society. Without taxes, these things don't happen (or at least, you end up paying Guido protection money, same thing).

    The anti-corporate argument is not that corporations should not exist, but that corporations are changing laws into their favor, which is NOT in the favor of the citizens themselves, and that's the problem. no matter what, people should be more important than corporations.
  • It made perfect sense at the time, as the man says, the banks were hugely responsible for the depression.

    Do you realize how banks work? Do you know why they are regulated, what part they play in the economyu? How a bank acts in creating new money and injecting it into society?

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Saturday June 30, 2001 @02:15AM (#119974)
    I'm sorry.. that's bullshit. Yes, if you made it a mission, and were willing to give up a lot of convenience everyone else has, you COULD get away with cash only. And as a matter of personal philosophy, I've tried this.

    I've been: refused admission to a hotel, because I didn't have a credit card (had lots of ID though)
    refused a rental car, even though I was willing to put down the entire insurance deposit in cash.
    The power company's agent refused to accept my cash payment, she is only authorized to take cheques or credit cards.
    Unable to pay my telephone bill at the main telephone office because they no longer accept cash.

    Man, we aren't saying the movie place shouldn't know where you live and all... we're saying that, as you need a credit card and bank account in this society, that banks are basically a necessity, so why should they get carte-blanche to do what they want with our personal information?

    I'm a consultant.. when I do business with someone, I keep all infromation strictly confidential. Shouldn't the same be expected of a bank? Hell yes.
  • Listen to all of the prompts. I hate to say "trick" but at one point it asks you if you wan to be removed for only two years and later in the choices you can opt-out perminately.
  • The financial institutions are required to inform you by July 1. That is the deadline spoken of in the article.

    You can opt out anytime you want, although of course, the earlier the better. So yes, this article *is* timely.
  • Note that a contribution from the CEO of a bank is a "private" contribution.

    Opensecrets.org shows that about 1/6 of Leach's campaign funding comes from the finance and insurance industries.
  • Except it prevented another complete economic collaspe by preventing banks from transfering your savings into some risky dot-com because the investment wing thinks is a cool idea. (Remember the Savings and Loan junk bonds could of been a whole lot worse. What if all the banks had all their money in the stock market in 1987 when it just hemorraged cash.) Do you really want your checking to be on the whims of the stock market or you stock broker needing to sell more stocks to you, not because they are cool, but because the bank needs more money to cover the loans it's given out? These institutions must be seperate for the safety of the economy. Economies of scale be damned. I guess I should learn how to be a hobo now, so I'll have a leg up on everyone else when it all comes crashing down even harder. We used to not be so dependant on banks back in the 30's, but now we just can't live without them. Stupid global economy. We are supposed to learn from our mistakes, not repeat them, guess we just don't have enough old folks around who remember the depression.
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @02:11PM (#119980) Journal
    The July 1 deadline is solely for the financial institution. G-L-B permits you to opt out anytime, and requires the institution to comply. DO NOT ACCEPT any mealy-mouthed suggestion that your opt-out was untimely.

    So, do not despair that you probably have already left half a dozen of your G-L-B notices on the floor.

    Also, read the opt-out language carefully if you aren't writing your own. Some of these notices are "carefully" drafted to confuse you. "Yes" may mean "no," and so forth.

    And, even though you CAN opt out later, make CERTAIN you opt-out ASAP.
  • The moderators are not some separate group like your comment seems to suggest. The vast majority of moderators are readers who periodically get the privilege, on a limited basis, of moderating a few comments. So the people who are writing those comments today are the people who could be moderating tomorrow, and vice versa.

    I moderate every couple of weeks; in fact, I have moderation points right now, but I'm not moderating this story so I can reply to this.

    If you had read the FAQ, you would know all this.

  • I am curious about something...

    You knew about this several months ago. And I presume, opted out with the rest of your collegues.

    Most people have learned about it today (surprise, surprise), when they can do little about it.

    I started getting those "privacy opt-out" letters a couple of weeks ago - figuring I would get around to them when I had to the time to really do it. At the time I was getting them, I wondered "Why now?" - wondering what law got passed that was making them send them out, and why I didn't hear anything about it on Slashdot...?

    The thing that disturbs me is that this law actually got passed years ago, and only now - when it is really too late to do anything (and today was the first I heard about that you had to opt-out before July 1st! I would gladly call everywhere I could - I have notified Equifax, though - if I had the stuff in front of me!). Why didn't we know about this long ago?

    Why didn't you write up an article about what your company was doing, and the effects - and get the word out?

    Why has it taken this long?

    I don't mean to rant at you - this is just VERY frustrating...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • Whip out your wallet or purse, pull out any credit cards, bank cards, credit union cards, etc - and look on the back - most (if not all) will have a phone number for customer service - call it!

    I just did this - it took a little time, but most of the time I didn't wait more than 5 minutes. I also called the institutions I worked with for auto loans, even the one I had paid off a couple of years back.

    Suprising thing I learned while on the phone? Most of the customer service people didn't even know what I was talking about until I explained it - then they understood what I wanted - many reffered to it as another thing, or had a message stating their policy "to not share information" but that "policy could change at any time" - with these, I explicitly got a representative on the line and told them I wanted it noted in my account that I was "opting out" - and waited on the line until they did it. Out of all the institutions I called, only one knew what I wanted instantly (Retailers National Bank - Target and Mervyns cards). Even my bank was coy about it!

    Many kept telling me "oh, we never share private info, blah, blah" - but I told them I wanted it noted in my account.

    I also asked them, as consumers, if they had opted out as well (education, you see) - most didn't, wondering why it was a bad thing...

    For the auto loans, I looked up the numbers on the web to call. I am not sure if they take these calls seriously, but it would be impossible to get letters out to all of these companies in under the deadline of July 1st (short of FedEx'ing overnight the letters, and even then, I think it is too late) - I might still send out the Nader letter - I like it!

    Anyhow, that is what I did - I had or could get the phone numbers easily, and it took only a little time. I think it is near-criminal that we have to opt-out, when it should be an opt-in only, instead.

    I hate what America has become - I HATE IT!

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • Re: The July Deadline

    Is this the deadline for them to contact you (I later called all the financial institutions about opting out soon after I posted, and some iterated the same thing), or is it the deadline by which they have to contact you and for you to opt out of old and new information from being shared - that is, if you opt out after the first, old info is fair game...?

    I don't blame you for not doing or posting anything - most likely there wasn't a forum, or if you did write an article, it probably wouldn't be posted.

    What I do wonder is given the number of people at where you work that opted out, and that a likely amount did the same at other similar employers - why didn't this message get out in a huge way to everyone and thier mother - it is frustrating to see, feel, and wonder about the apathy in American society today...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • Perhaps - a lot of my news does come from /. - a bit from k5 (which I didn't read anything about this on, either). Sometimes I read "norm" sites (cnn, msnbc, etc), though not that often. Sometimes I even get the paper.

    I wonder why we are only really hearing about it now - instead of back since 1999? Why didn't they send out these privacy statements every month for a year? Why wasn't there a big cry about it? Why are people so damn apathetic.

    I should have read at least one of the statements - true. I kept them all - thinking maybe I had at least a few months - and not just two weeks - to act. I have a busy life - and mailing letters just isn't a big part, unless I am really fired up about things.

    After I made this post, I called the various institutions, and talked to them about it, and opted out at all of them. I had opted out at equifax about a week ago.

    Finally, I object to your name calling: I am not ignorant (though I plead the 5th on the lazy portion - let's just say I take my time) - I recognized that when I got the statement, I needed to do it, which is why I kept all of them. I guess the laziness portion got the better of me - but in the end, as I noted, I did it - under the deadline as well.

    And for the record, I do write my congressman (ok, maybe I email them) when I see fit to do so (and before you moan about a letter being better than an email, which I concede at this point most likely is true - it is only because our congresscritters are so ass-backward when it comes to tech that it is like this - information, ideas, and opinions are worthy regardless of the medium of expression - I wish they could get that through their skulls - some have, most haven't)...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • Large campaign bribes are proferred by corporations. Corporate speech is restricted every day. Why should campaign contributions be any different?

    If all that money came from individuals (Microsoft's donations to both the repubs and the dems coming instead from Bill G and Steve B), it would be a lot more obvious that these were quid pro quo and not generosity. The public, which has a hard time swallowing corporate involvement in the government as it is, would stand on their rooftops and revolt if the donor list came out and Bill Gates's contribution dwarfed theirs by tens of orders of magnitude.

    The axiom that he who has the gold makes the rules would come and hit everyone like a ton of bricks.

    It also raises the possibility that hideously wealthy would find something more worthy to put their money towards than influencing government--like altruism--if the alternative meant being hated by their countrymen because their *personal wealth* made them more equal than everyone else. This is harder to see behind the veil of corporate donations.

    Ban corporate donations. Make every donation have a name attached (over a certain amount, pegged to inflation). Small donors may remain anonymous, large donors forfeit any claim to anonymity when they decide they want to run the country. Remove the corporate veil. Publish the list. The people have a right to know who government is actually protecting and profiting.

  • > Isn't there an upside for consumers in letting the companies freely shop the data around? Aren't you more rather than less likely to become aware of errors companies have in their databases, for example?

    But it also means that the database errors are propagated more widely. Meaning that - if I detect the error, which is an iffy proposition - I have to clean it up in more than one place, because it's been resold so many times.

    > What is the potential downside of not opting out, if you don't see the companies shopping around your data as a big deal? I ask this as a guy who has bar-code tags from three different grocery stores hanging off my key ring, so they know every time I've bought a copy of Maxim from the magazine stand and the two brands of beer I like best.

    If you don't see data-shopping as a big deal (and in your case, as you're well aware of the tracking implications, you've effectively opted-in, because your actions and statement constitute informed consent to such data sales), you're absolutely right - you probably don't want to opt-out.

    If, however, you're not like the original poster, and you are concerned about privacy, you probably ought to opt out.

    My beef isn't with the original poster -- it's with those who fail to opt out because they've been denied (through obfuscatory language) the information required to come to their decisions regarding the sale of their personal data in an informed manner. These people probably would opt-out if they knew what was going on behind their backs, but because they don't know (a) what's going on, and (b) that they can at least slow it down if not stop it, they don't opt-out.

    Worse, their silence is taken as assent by the DMA, who then uses this as "evidence" that customers really do want their privacy invaded on a regular basis.

    I'm no Chomsky fan, but I love his phrase "Manufactured Consent". This is a prime example.

  • > [The Glass-Steagall Act] was one of the most stupid things of the last 60 years.

    Absofrigginlutely correct, IMNSHO.

    Gramm-Leach-Bliley is a great law when it comes to allowing financial services companies to wear different hats, and it's been a long time coming.

    The people objecting to GLB on Slashdot are objecting to the (weak) privacy rider attached to the bill, not the principal reason for the bill itself.

    In defence of GLB's weak privacy provisions, better the right to opt-out than no right to opt-out at all.

    I believe we need a stronger privacy bill that calls for opt-in practices as opposed to opt-out practices. But I don't have enough money to buy the kinds of campaign finance donations that the DMA lobbyists can, so that'll never happen.

    But to your original point, the main thrust of GLB - allowing banks, brokers, and insurance companies to merge - is a great step forward... It's just not anything the Slashdot crowd gets excited about ;-)

  • > You know, stuff like this will keep getting passed until several (hundred) congresspeople wake up and find that their bank accounts have been cleaned out, and their credit cards maxed out, because you can buy anyone's personal info for $39.95.

    Don't laugh, the guy's right.

    The only reason your video store (pr0n!) rental records are protected by law ("Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988") is because Judge Robert Bork's video rentals were published when he was nominated for a seat on the supreme court.

    A tip to the black-hat crackers: If you really wanna fight "the establishment" (and are willing to break the law for it), you might want to consider cracking Doubleclick and acquiring the surfing profiles of as many federal judges, prominent politicians, or cabinet nominees as you can. Grep 'em for g0at pr0n and leak one profile per week, simultaneously, to the press and the politician's opposition.

    Today's situation is identical to that of 1988. Privacy invasion is all fun and games until a politician loses face.

    The monkeys on Capitol Hill will continue to see no need for strong privacy protections until one of them gets hurt. If such a leak happens (maybe an "inside job" from some disgruntled Doubleclick employee), I predict that within six months of such a leak, the US will have strongest privacy protection laws on the face of the earth.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @08:11AM (#119997)
    > Has anyone tried sending the Nader letter to a financial institution, in place of that institution's preprinted form? What was your experience? Did you receive any sort of response, positive or negative?

    I wrote an opt-out letter to my bank a few weeks ago.

    I received no acknowledgement whatsoever. I have no idea whether it was even received, let alone whether my opt-out decision will be honored.

    And if my bank decides to ignore my opting-out, how will I prove it? (And even if I could prove it, what good would it do, as GLB doesn't allow for a right of private action, so I can't sue the bastards into compliance.)

    This is why I believe opt-out to be a cop-out, and that opt-in is the only acceptable standard.

    When dealing with spammers, "remove lists" don't work. Because spammers lie. (Oh, you opted out of HOT T33NZ spam. We'll now spam you on behalf of H0T T3ENS. Opt out of that, and the H0T TE3NZ list will spam you...)

    When dealing with DMA marketroids, "opt-out" doesn't work. For precisely the same reasons.

    Trade in the overalls for a suit and tie, the KFC and Bud for filet mignon and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the trailer park for an office tower, and you've got the Direct Marketing Association.

    Rule #1: Spammers lie.
    Rule #2: If you think a spammer is telling the truth, see Rule #1
    . Rule #3: Spammers are St00pid.
    .

    DMA or chickenboner, they're all the same to me.

  • Gramm, Leach and Bliley are three Republican Congressmen who have all received huge bribes (sometimes called campaign contributions) from the banking industry

    Why is it that everyone calls a campaign contribution a bribe? So three people believe that banks, insurance companies, and stock brokerages should be allowed to combine. Is this a huge shock? Is it simply unfathomable that intelligent people would fell this way? No, intelligent people often have differing opinions. So, who is the banking industry going to give money to? The politicians whose views will make the bank more money or the politicians whose views will make the bank less money? It's not a bribe if it doesn't affect how the person acts, there's no reason to believe these are bribes rather than money spent to get someone already on their side into office.
  • It also raises the possibility that hideously wealthy would find something more worthy to put their money towards than influencing government

    As long as it is profitable to try to influence government, individuals and corporations will continue to do so. You cannot stop people from spending money to support the candidate of their choice. Ban direct contributions, and they'll donate to the parties. Ban that, and they'll donate to advocacy groups. Ban that and not only will they find another way, but you've seriously maimed the First Amendment. The only way to stop this problem is to restrict government to its constitutionally granted powers, so that it is unable to reward contributors with favorable legislation that screws over everyone else.


  • Blame it all on having to track people via way of their social security numbers. Nobody asks for a lot of things when it comes down to passing info from business to business, but heck look at TRW and Equifax. It's shameful that the U.S. is so dependant on the Social (In)Security system, especially with so much identity theft going on.
  • by q2k ( 67077 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:57AM (#120003) Homepage
    One potential downside...

    Next week - or maybe 7 years from now - you could be involved in a nasty divorce battle, and you have children. Her attorney could very well suponea those grocery store records and use your weekly beer purchases and Maxxim habit to try and convince a judge that you are a porn addicted alcoholic not worthy of custody or maybe even visitation rights with your own children...

    Unlikely?? Probably. Worth the risk?? That's up to you.

    Luckily there is one grocery chain where I live that has not and claims they will not implement the bonus card crap where you have to give up your personal details to get sale prices. This particular chain is starting to use it as a competitive advantage...advertising that they give their best prices to all customers all the time...
  • Nice that everyone seems to have a tv. Except that the number of people living in poverty in this country has been rising sharply the last few years. So while they may have a tv, they may not have food. TVs are so common i hardly call them a luxury..more like a comodity, especially when you can get a pos tv really cheap.
  • Yes, and Democrats never get campaign contributions from groups who don't have the public's best interest in mind.

    Your subject line says it all. This is Nader's protest here, not the money-bathed politicos. Remember the guy who "stole" Gore's votes. He didn't steal Gore's votes, Gore gave them away for playing up to the large corporations. Nader is the one looking out for the everyman, and not big brother, who is trying to buy and sell your dirt.

    Maybe it's not Michael that's doing the duping, but finger-pointing dissenters in the ranks of people seeking privacy.

    What could possibly be next? The Garbage, Recycling and Sanitation companies installing meters to watch how much of my products I actually use (am I a good consumer?) and selling that info to big brother as well?

  • Higher profits (remember, in the absence of government-guaranteed industries) means a stronger economy.

    Incorrect. Higher profits means more money in the bank - but doesn't necessarily mean a stronger economy.

    Assuming that the strength of an economy is measured by the width & depth of the money flowing through it, then a stronger economy is actually characterized by the amount of SPENDING occurring by all of its elements. There is also an underlying assumption that all of those elements are earning enough revenue to keep up with their expenses - you'll note that they don't actually have to be making a lot of profit to be part of a strong economy, they just have to be making enough to be stable.

  • Well, the super magical telepathy identifier software for them identify you with is broken this week.

    How, exactly, would you expect a credit bureau to figure out WHO was opting out if they didn't get your SS#? It is the primary key identifier in each of their databases.
  • "Mom-n-pops no longer exist"

    I hope you are referring just to banks, which is not true there are very successful local banks where I live in Virginia. Small business is thriving, if you don't believe me go take a look downtown in most medium sized towns (say.... 30+ thousand residents). Most of the shops where I live are locally owned and we have a low poverty rate.

    If mom-n-pop shops cannot compete price-wise with WalMart then so be it! If WalMart has better prices, better return policies, better service and the like then it deserves to win. WalMart and other big business despite the socialist myths to the contrary can't just waltz into town and take over. They have to convince people to buy from them and not mom-n-pop shops. People don't just say, "hey there's a big business, I'm gonna buy from them just because they're big!" they buy from them because they are cheaper, have better service, better return policies and things like that. In other words they get a better deal than they would from the mom-n-pop shop. You may not like that, but that's the way it works. Let those that do a better job enjoy their rewards in peace.

  • "That is essentially no longer possible in the Western world, today. Employers no longer pay in cash, so you have to have an account with some sort of financial institution,...."

    I'm sorry but that is crap. You can receive you paycheck as a check, and cash it at the bank your employeer uses. Then you have cash, and are much much much less trackable.
    If you want to be private, you can.
  • However, I feel compelled to make a correction about the cause of the Great Depression. The REAL cause was that the Federal Reserve (due to a power struggle between the Governor from New York and the Chairman) tightened monetary supply instead of expanding it, as one is supposed to do during a financial crisis.

    Yes, the banks made poor investments, but that happens sometimes, and the purpose of the Federal Reserve was to act as the lender of last resort in these cases. They have, fundamentally, ONE task, and they failed miserably at it. So, what would otherwise have been a recession turned into the worst depression ever in American history.

    Furthermore, even if the banks were to fail again in the future, we now have the FDIC, which means that up to $100,000 of the money you have in the bank is insured by the full faith and credit of the US Government (AAA credit rating).

    So, allowing banks to invest money is not going to lead to another Great Depression. For that matter, banks ALWAYS invest your money, through loans and the like. That's why they can afford to give you interest. Allowing them to use different instruments is not much of a change.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • I feel I should point out that UBS PaineWebber, the company I work for, will not let client info out of the UBS umbrella. The only exception is for joint marketing agreements. This sounds bad, but actually means a product offered jointly, like if we were selling you a mutual fund, the fund company would need your info for business purposes. Our commitment to customer privacy probably has something to do with the fact that we're owned by a Swiss bank :)

    Anyway, just thought I'd let you know, you don't have to resort to stuffing money under your mattress if you don't want your info going to telemarketers. Look around, I'm sure other firms operate the same way we do.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • First off, yes, you are of course correct on the printing issue. The Fed issues Reserve Notes, it does not actually print them. I don't know what I was thinking. The point, however, is that the Notes are financial obligations of the Federal Reserve. Coins, on the other hand, are financial obligations of the Treasury. These days, the only obligation is that when you give them a $50 bill, they give you $50 back in bill form. However, throughout most of the century, they were required to give gold. Anyway, point being, whether or not the machinery that prints the bills is actually owned by them, the bills are still 100% their jurisdiction.

    Now then, from http://www.federalreserve.gov [federalreserve.gov]:

    The Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, was founded by Congress in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.

    There you have it. It was created by Congress. If you read the .pdf document on their General information page, there are such illuminating quotes as the following:

    The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System was established as a federal government agency. It is made up of seven members appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

    and

    The Board of Governors exercises broad authority over the operations and activities of the Federal Reserve Banks and their Branches. This authority includes oversight of the Reserve Banks? services to banks and other depository institutions and of their examination and supervision of various banking institutions. Each Federal Reserve Bank must submit its annual budget to the Board of Governors for approval.

    Got it? The Board is appointed by the President, and the Board controls the Banks. Finally, even if you were right, which you're not, I would still sleep comfortably. Quite frankly, I'd trust private banks just as much as governmental ones to run our monetary policy.
    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • even though banks are attempting to comply by sending out notices which will allow you to opt-out of information sharing, these letters often arrive looking like junk-mail, or worse.

    i'm not trying to say that some banks are being two-faced about this (ok, i am). but as long as they are complying with the letter of the law (sending out the notices without giving mention of their importance) the banks are legally in the clear.

    check your mailboxes!

    _f
  • Here is the URL: http://www.chase.com/pages/privacy/optout [chase.com] This is buried on chases web site.

    The phone number: (800) 935-9935 -- To skip recorded markettroid speak press 9 to speak to a human. Tell the person about the opt-out.

    Also make sure that you specify that you do *not* want any chase marketing phone calls either. This is shown on their sample web page "form", but most people wouldn't notice it, and they don't mention it when you want to "opt-out" either. They aren't happy, but thats tough. :)

  • This is absurd. You should be opted-out by default, and banks could only share your data if they get your permission in writing. I can only imagine the trail of dirty lobbyist money following this law.
  • by mfinke ( 160527 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:58AM (#120047)
    According to a print Newsweek article I'm looking at, you can notify all three credit bureaus with the following phone number: 1-888-567-8688 (1-888-5 optout).
  • Where's the problem? It's a free market, companies should be able to do what they want to do, and if you don't like it, don't use that company. Find a small family run FDIC insured bank, or better yet, a credit union that promises not to do it. If they do share, then leave.

    Sure, big business is tough to fight, but that's why we have the Internet, to share this information. Do you work at a bank that says they respect privacy but is brokering out your information? Then post it, anonymously, to some forum where others can find out and then ignore the bank.

    Its quite simple. You pick the companies you do business with, knowing full well now that they CAN share your data. So don't give them any data. Oh, too bad, maybe you can't use your credit card now to run up a 50,000 debt you'll never pay. Boo-hoo.

    Or better yet, invest out of the country in smaller privately insured banks. There are huge insurance companies out there insuring lesser known foreign banks up to $500,000 per account (more than the FDIC) and you can sometimes get away with very little personal information posted to open such an account.

    Do your research, stop trying to control "big business."
  • No, "idiots like" me pay attention to the privacy guidelines we receive in the mail or get online.

    "Idiots like" me don't have a frequent buyer's discount card to any grocery stores (I bet you do) so no one knows what I buy.

    "Idiots like" me pay cash for as much as we can, including but not limited to what we drive, what we eat, what we watch (movies, etc) because we know that the credit card company is giving us the card in exchange for a nice interest rate and the right to do what they please with the information we give them freely.

    "Idiots like" me don't give out our SS# to colleges we attend, don't list it on our driver's license, and check our credit reports (all 3) at least every quarter and find who is looking into our records.

    "Idiots like" me understand that is because of IDIOTS LIKE YOU that we get great rates on loans, good deals at the grocery store (I use the cashier's frequent buyer card when I shop) and low prices all around BECAUSE business know more about us and can target their expensive advertising towards those who rely on it.

    I personally don't rely on advertising, don't care for coupons or credit cards, don't like to write checks. All the bank SHOULD know about you is "Withdrew $100 from ATM on 6/12/01" and "Deposited check from company on 6/9/01." If you do more with THEIR credit card and THEIR ATM card and THEIR checking account number, is it their fault if you freely gave them information?

    I think not. Idiot.
  • Umm, why do I need to rent a car, or a movie? If you're renting someone else's expensive goods, then why shouldn't they know more about you, to trust you, etc?

    You CAN pay cash for nearly everything. Don't get a car loan, save up $400 a month for 5 years, and then go buy a car cash, and while you drive that car for 5 years, save up another $20,000 (plus interest) to buy your next car.

    I provide as little information as possible. You can even get a credit card, by the way, without giving ANY information if you are willing to get it fully secured. I have a few friends who have secured cards with no real information on them, sure they'll never get their security deposit back, but hey, $1000 or whatever it is for 10-20 years of use on a secured card isn't such a bad penalty to pay so you don't have your real info out there.

    If you want the quality of life you're living now, with credit lines, movie rental abilities, etc, then yes, you'll give up some privacy. If you really want privacy, there are MANY MANY ways to find it, and some of them are pretty sane.
  • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:44AM (#120058) Homepage Journal
    Do your research, stop trying to control "big business."

    All these draconian 'rules' and 'laws' totaly interfere in profit-taking. I mean really, whats with that anyway.. I mean take crack for example.. Do you know what the profit margin is on crack? Its tremendous! And yet 'big business' is not 'allowed' to sell crack to school-children despite its huge potential for earnings. sheesh. commies.

  • There are a few problems with your argument:

    1. 'Mom and Pop' banks fold and are swallowed up on a regular basis. Doing business with a tiny bank or credit union subjects you to far more risk than a large commercial bank. Most of these banks still sell your information anyway.

    And before you start moaning "FDIC, FDIC" keep in mind that FDIC claims can take as long as 10 years to settle. FDIC is a good thing, but not something that you WANT to use.

    2. Opportunity cost. The amount of time & hassle required to screen all of your business partners is not worth the minimal gain. Thats why the banking lobby lobbied for the present law.

    3. Foreign Investment. That's a real crackpot scheme. Non-citizens generally have less protection under the banking laws of most countries. In addition, you suffer in other ways.
    - You are now subjected to currency risk, as well as additional bank risk
    - In the event of some international crisis, your assets may be frozen or seized
    - Few vendors will accept foreign checks
    - You are subject to double taxation unless you choose to violate the law.

    The system needs to be reformed. Withdrawing from society is a self-serving, fringe philosophy that will only make matters worse in the long run.

  • What do you mean?

    Just save $1500 a month for 30 years and buy a house with a suitcase of cash!

    There's no reason to ever use accounts for anything. Just buy a horse and grow your own oats.
  • Where does your philosophy stop?

    Do you long for the good old days when men were men, and used sharpened rocks as tools?

    The point of freedom is that you are free to do what you will. If you choose to fulfill yourself with buying cars and gadgets, while putting yourself in debt, so be it.

    You suggest that it is more 'pure' to be a peasant of a long-past age. Do you do this? How?

    How do you acquire 'family land' without a loan?
    How do you purchase seed with which to farm your land without credit?
    How do you hedge against a poor growing season without access to financial markets?
    How do you purchase equipment?

    People like you ARE the problem. You see the evils of modern society, but choose to retreat to an earlier time instead of making things better.

    Self-centered and short-sighted libertarians fail to realize that the world changes. You criticize the evils of our economic system without even thinking about the benefits.

    Technology is fueled by capital, which our system generates en masse. The advancement you so despise has made our lives wonderful is so many ways, but your eyes are glued only on the problems.

    When you harp back to the good old days, try to think about the bad stuff too. Life as a subsistence farmer is a drab and dreary existance. (Maybe that's why people preferred factory work over towing a plow with an ox)
  • This may depend on the bank, but my experience with this is that Wells Fargo has a call-in number that 1) allows you to opt out of their internal sharing (contrary to Michael's assertion), and 2) allow you to do it over the phone ("in writing" no mandatory).

    Props to E*Trade, by the way... they sent me an e-mail yesterday with instructions on how to opt-out (just an e-mail to do it).


    --

  • By the way, here's [wellsfargo.com] the page at Wells Fargo.


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  • Isn't this already being done...by people with lots of money, organized crime and corrupt government officials?

  • By now it should be clear to even the most dense, libertarian, free-market theologian on slashdot that we in the US do not live in a democracy.

    The People overwhelmingly want their privacy protected, business wants it to be defined as a commodity (and one that they own) to be traded. Privacy is not protected.

    The People overwhelmingly want to know if their food contains genetically modified ingredients, business doesn't want them to know. There is no labeling for this and the US government is trying to overturn the food-labeling laws in European Union and Japan through challenges at the World Trade Organization.

    The People overwhelmingly want health care financing taken away from private insurance companies and a Canadian-style single-payer plan instituted in the US. Business wants to continue to make profits off of people's illness even if that means organized denial of care through HMOs and that 40 million people are without health insurance entirely. Our health care system remains in the hands of private insurance companies.

    I could go on all day, but I won't. Face it you all, we live in a plutocracy.

    As for your "free market." It doesn't exist. Two years ago the CEO of Archer Daniels Midland said in an interview in Mother Jones Magazine, "There isn't a single product on earth that is traded on a free market."

    If you will think back to economics 101 a "free market" isn't just one that is free of government intervention. A free market is one in which no one competitor has market power, defined as the ability to influence prices. A free market only exists where no one competitor, or group of competitors in collusion, in that market is large enough to be able to set the price. This situation probably has never existed anywhere, and it certainly doesn't exist now where mergers and acquisitions have lead most industries to be dominated by a few large concerns.

    Through incredibly lax enforcement of anti-trust regulations and through the back door of international trade treaties consolidation proceeds barely and rarely checked in the US.

    The Justice Department broke up AT & T in the '80s. But in just the past few years our local phone company US West has been bought by Qwest, which may soon be bought by Deutche Telecom.

    As John Dewey said 100 years ago, "Politics is just the shadow cast by business."
  • gee, it's funny you say that.

    in ithaca, the people tried to LOBBY to prevent Walmart from moving in, buying out a small area of stores, and taking over that land to build their store.

    last i heard, the people lost, the stores' rental contracts were cancelled, and the buildings were demolished.
  • When UP sent me thier privacy policy I emailed them my own privacy policy. I informed them that I would collect all of the personal information that I could,within the law, about the employees at my local branch and distribute it where ever I could, within the law. I would also be informing the branch employees of what I was doing. A few days later I got a responce straight from one of the VPs expressing his concern over my comments blah blah blah.
  • Gramm, Leach and Bliley are three Republican Congressmen who have all received huge bribes (sometimes called campaign contributions) from the banking industry.

    Sorry. While the rest of this article is factually correct, Leach accepts only private contributions to his campaign fund. He can, however, afford to self-finance. The reason his name was on the bill? He is the former house banking committee chair.

  • I received no acknowledgement whatsoever. I have no idea whether it was even received, let alone whether my opt-out decision will be honored.

    And if my bank decides to ignore my opting-out, how will I prove it?

    ...use the federal government to your advantage--send the letter by reigstered mail. That way you at least have proof that they received your letter. Another option is to go to your bank in person and opt-out that way; get a signed statement from them stating that you are oficcially opted out.

    Good luck!

  • You are in fact right... the gains to be had from corps actually using their info on you can be helpfull. Targeted ads (for stuff we might actually be interested in) and all the other stuff you can read on Double Click's mission statement would be great.

    The only problem is that most of these companies are (typically) as scrupulous as a loan sharks. Do I want my (car) insurance company finding out I renewed my contact lens perscription? Do I want my employer to know about what gets put on my CC? Do I want my SS# published on the net? If I apply for a CC do I want anyone to find out how much I make?

    My point is that some conclusions about who I am can be good for marketing purposes, but some info (especially my meager financial info) should stay close to home because corps these days are particularly untrustworthy.
  • As long as this information does not include security-sensitive information (e.g. credit card numbers), then what is the issue? I don't really care who knows my credit history, I have nothing to hide there
    I keep seeing these posts warning of corporate invasion of privacy but I can't really see the downside...

    You could have your identity stolen, a bunch of credit cards opened in your name, and a bunch of shit charged up with them, and then have to spend years and years proving that it wasn't you, and dealing with the increased daily aggravation in your life, and have bloodsucking leaches (er, lawyers) calling you all day long, and creditors wanting to know where their money is, and be forced to move to another address to avoid a lot of the nonsense, and not be able to buy a house or car for three or six years, and so on and so forth. But other than that, there really is no downside to having all of your vital details blabbed to whoever wants them, and there's nothing ethically wrong with a company you do business with selling that data and making money off of it even though it's your data and not theirs and you provided it to them with some implied level of trust and were not informed that you became a source of revenue to them in more than one way.

    Just ask Radio Shack employees how their customers feel about that kind of thing. I'm sure they've got a lot of interesting stories to tell.

  • by nanojath ( 265940 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @08:08AM (#120107) Homepage Journal
    Here's a scenario: You get a bad spot on your credit record due to a bank error. You're lazy about balancing your checking account so you don't notice it for a couple months. By the time you do, the bank has sold information about you to a commercial information clearinghouse. It takes a month to clear the mistake up with the bank... at which point you realize that you'll never be able to track down everywhere this bad information has ended up, as the clearinghouse has no contract with you and no motivation to disclose their customers.

    Your bank enters into a business arrangement with an internet start-up. When their silly business model fails and they're gasping out the last of their venture capital funding, they sell all of the personal information they've amassed, including your records, with Spamorama Inc. Next time you open your e-mail you've got to sift through 2,000 porn ads, health fads, and bad financial offers.

    But the little money the start-up makes is enough to keep them limping along... Until their weak firewall gets hacked, at which point a black-hat hacker has your address, phone numbers, e-mails, SSN, credit history... If you've ever known someone who got ripped off by someone getting a credit account in their names, you know that the credit provider comes on with the attitude and assumption of guilty until proven innocent. They're hard-pressed to prosecute but it can cause months and even years of headaches and screw up your credit rating - see scenario one for how even when you clear this up with the credit card company, you could still have bad paper about you floating around for years to come.

    And on the more mundane level, ask yourself this simple question: Do you generally enjoy or dislike business solicitations that you do not initiate? As in, telemarketers, spam e-mail, and junk mail. Because the bottom line of all this is empowering corporations to try to sell you things you didn't ask for. The net result will be an increase in unsolicited come-ons. How would you like to waste your time today?

  • Actually, disliking regulations because they hurt profits is not a bad idea, either. Higher profits (remember, in the absence of government-guaranteed industries) means a stronger economy. A stronger economy benefits everyone. Regulations slow the economy, so if you have regulations, they should be of the type a libertarian will allow, which is to say, laws preventing your smokestack from polluting the air you don't own.

    Even then, how much pollution should be allowed should err on the dirty side. Life under the filthy smokestacks of newly-industrialized London was a lot longer and healthier than under an agrarian society.

  • by tb3 ( 313150 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @08:08AM (#120124) Homepage
    Hate to break the news to you, but Wingspan is dead. Check the article here [boston.com]. I closed my account with them as soon as they implemented service fees, and their credit card gets very bad reviews on Gomez.

    Any techies in Washington State or Oregon should see if their company has an agreement with First Tech Credit Union [1sttech.com]. Very nice credit union; I've never had any problems with them.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

  • It seems that there is some confusion over with whom an institution can share information. The act gives consumers the ability to opt out of the sharing of their information with "non-affiliated third parties." Contrary to Michael's assertion, this does have some teeth. The act defines an affiliate to be:

    (a)Affiliate means any company that controls, is controlled by or is under common control with another company

    This actually makes it pretty limiting, and in the briefing I attended on the act, several retailers present were quite concerned with how it would limit their marketing efforts.The concern was actually raised that if companies can't obtain the types of data they can get these days that show spending habits, income, etc, their marketing dollars can not be focused effectively. The net result is a broader, more expensive marketing effort (which results in higher prices).
    The upshot of all this is that if you're the paranoid type, this bill will actually help. It is actually a good piece of legislation for consumers' privacy. But if you're looking to get away from junk mail...you may want to try a lean-to deep in the woods.
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  • It's the most expensive kind of "free" speech there is :]

    But seriously folks!

    Another option to having campaign contributions and personally funded campaigns would be publically financed campaigns. There have been a few publically financed campaigns in the US over the past few years. I dont know the exact mechanism they use though, so I cant really provide any more details.

    I do agree that campaign donations qualify as free speech. I also think it's pretty much the same thing as bribery. But, I guess freedom trumps bribery.

    On the other hand, a corporation shouldnt be given the same rights as an individual. I think only individuals should be given the rights of individuals, and corporations should not have the same rights as individual, actual, living & breathing people.

    -J5K

    p.s. We already pretty much live in an aristocracy. Yes, there are exceptions, but overall (especially in the higher levels of govt, but even locally) it's the wealthiest who get elected.
  • You have some valid points, dada21. But as the article states, most institutions are not even sending the notices due to the loophole in the law. And do you think that everyone is even aware of the changes in the law?

    We have a mixed free market system. This means an essentially free market with mechanisms built-in to protect consumers and vendors. It is different than a TOTAL free-market system.
  • by Blue Aardvark House ( 452974 ) on Friday June 29, 2001 @07:35AM (#120134)
    Personal information has become a commodity to be bought and sold.

    Even with your phone number, you have to PAY for the privilege of not being listed.
  • I Just received this today from our corporate attorney. I've removed the letterhead and personal information. ANNUAL DISCLOSURE NOTICE TO CONSUMERS With Whom This Firm Has Any, On-Going Relationship After July 1. 2001 This document is an annual notice that may be required pursuant to the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Pub. Law No. 106-102, and any rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission regarding privacy of consumer financial information, 16 C.F.R. 313, irrespective of how unbelievably expansive (and possibly impermissibly expansive) those FTC rules may be. As a law firm, this firm collects non-public information about you from you, from others as permitted by law, with your authorization, from third parties such as court clerks, banks and government agencies, and from others. This firm does not disclose any non-public personal information about clients or former clients or others except as permitted by law, as required by law, or as otherwise authorized. If authorized, required or permitted by law, this firm may disclose non-public personal information to unrelated third parties. Such unrelated third parties may include court clerks, court reporters, expert witnesses, process servers, and others. During the course of litigation, court rules may require public disclosure of otherwise private information (such as your address and social security number); and this is unavoidable. This firm restricts access to non-public personal information about you to those employees and agents of this law firm who need to know the information in order for this firm to provide appropriate legal services to clients. This firm maintains physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards that comply with federal regulations and applicable rules of ethics to guard your non- public personal information. This notice is written and mailed out of an excess of caution and not as an admission that such rules apply to this firm. If you have any questions, objections, or other statements about this notice, please write to (deleted)immediately. This firm does not believe that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (The Act) should apply to law firms. The Act is generally meant to apply to banks, insurance companies, brokerage houses, and other large financial institutions that do not have "attorney-client" relationships. Under The Act, consumers should be entitled to certain protections from their banks that were not previously required under federal law. So, the purpose of The Act is good and this firm generally supports such privacy protections. However, law firms and lawyers have always been under a duty to protect client information and continue to be under such a duty. The lawyer's duty of confidentiality in this State provides much better protection than the putative protection in The Act. Those duties are set out in this State's ethical rules, in case law, and in certain other rules and statutes. But the federal bureaucrats who write the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Rules to enforce the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act have done what they could to make their Rules and The Act extend as far as possible (to include any banks, pseudo banks, on-line banks, non-bank banks, insurance companies, financial institutions, and others). In doing this, the FTC's Rules may be read to include lawyers, so you are receiving this Notice just in case they do. Even if the FTC's new rules don't apply, however, please be assured that your confidential information is protected. We regret any inconvenience. This firm will continue to protect your privacy under this State's law even if the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act does not apply to this firm.

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