There was an article today about how easy it is to get info on people.
Bush Officials Private Information Available For Purchase Online
By Jimmy Moore
August 28, 2003
WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- The Social Security numbers and other personal information of high-ranking members of the Bush administration are available for purchase online, according to information released by a consumer advocacy group on Wednesday.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights was able to buy the Social Security numbers and home addresses of CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and President Bush's chief political advisor Karl Rove for only $26 each.
The California-based consumer advocacy group used this to illustrate the importance for having more stringent regulations regarding the personal information of citizens.
Both the CIA and the Justice Department were unavailable for comment.
One of the key points of concern for the group is legislation currently under consideration in the U.S. House that would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, or H.R. 2622, is co-sponsored by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-OR) as well as fifty other members of the U.S. House. It would help prevent identity theft and organize and improve the accuracy of consumer records.
Even embattled California Gov. Gray Davis, who is looking to score political points with the voters with a recall election coming in a couple of months, signed legislation into law on Wednesday that will prevent companies from sharing personal information with their subsidiary businesses.
Although the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is in favor of these measures, Executive Director Jamie Court is concerned about the part of the bill that allows a pre-emption of more stringent privacy laws passed by the states.
"Banks and insurers should not be able to go to Washington as an end-run around the most protective state privacy laws," Court proclaimed.
The banking industry has some of the strongest regulations on consumer information available. However, there is growing support for a national privacy standard, according to Diane Casey-Landry, the president and CEO of America's Community Bankers.
Casey-Landry is concerned that each of the states implementing their own privacy regulations can cause problems for consumers who need a loan and will ultimately end up costing the consumer more money and time filling out all the paperwork needed to obtain a loan.
President Bush has asked Congress to pass better legislation regarding credit laws and is in favor of the Bachus bill under consideration in the U.S. House. It is to be considered for a floor vote within a few weeks after lawmakers return to Washington in September.
Evan Keefer, a spokesman for Rep. Bachus, says this bill will help cut down on consumer fraud. Nevertheless, he said the concerns raised by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights would be considered in conference after the bill passes both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.
The consumer advocacy group would like to have a strong national law on credit reporting while allowing states to implement stronger privacy protections of their own. Additionally, preventing companies from sharing information with their company affiliates will greatly minimize the vulnerability of consumer information.
"If you cannot stop the traffic in your information among corporate affiliates, you don't have privacy in this nation," Court stated.
Although Social Security numbers and home addresses can be bought relatively cheap online, some Internet websites will actually provide a person's bank account balance for $300.
There are at least a dozen websites that provide Social Security numbers and other sensitive consumer data for people willing to pay the fee, says Beth Givens, the Director of San Diego-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
"If you're willing to spend a little money, you can get this type of information very easily on the Internet," Givens admitted.
Copyright © 2003 Talon News -- All rights reserved.
Privacy Is History On The Internet, Says Consumer Group
Social Security Numbers Of Top Federal Officials Found For Sale Online
By JENNIFER C. KERR
Published on 8/28/2003
Washington — Almost everything is for sale on the Internet — even the Social Security numbers of top government officials like CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft, consumer advocates warned Wednesday.
The California-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said for $26 each it was able to purchase the Social Security numbers and home addresses for Tenet, Ashcroft and other top Bush administration officials, including Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser.
That illustrates the need for stronger protections of personal information, the group said.
Specifically, the foundation is concerned about legislation in the House that would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., Darlene Hooley, D-Ore., and dozens of other members, aims to prevent identity theft and improve the accuracy of consumer records, among other things.
While backing the overall goals of the bill, the group's executive director, Jamie Court, objected to a portion of it that would continue a current pre-emption of tougher state privacy laws.
California Gov. Gray Davis signed such legislation Wednesday, which allows consumers to block companies from sharing personal information with affiliate businesses.
“Banks and insurers should not be able to go to Washington as an end-run around the most protective state privacy laws,” Court said.
The Bush administration has urged Congress to act quickly to strengthen the nation's credit laws and has praised the House bill. It is expected to come up for a vote in the first few weeks after lawmakers return from their August recess.
A spokesman for Bachus, Evan Keefer, said the legislation has important new provisions that will be tough on fraud. He said the issue raised by the foundation is something lawmakers would look at in conference, after votes in the House and Senate.
The foundation wants to see a strong national law on credit reporting, but Court said that should not preclude states from passing even stronger privacy protections.
He said stopping trafficking of information among corporate affiliates is key because some companies have hundreds of businesses under the family umbrella. For example, a banking corporation might have a number of insurance, securities and real estate affiliates it does business with and financial data might be swapped among all.
“If you cannot stop the traffic in your information among corporate affiliates, you don't have privacy in this nation,” Court said.
In addition to Social Security numbers, Court said some online sites will give out a person's bank account balance for about $300.
Beth Givens, director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse based in San Diego, said there are at least a dozen sites that provide social security numbers and other private data.
“If you're willing to spend a little money, you can get this type of information very easily on the Internet,” said Givens.
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights: www.consumerwatchdog.org
© The Day Publishing Co., 2003