Shelby, A Strong Privacy Advocate, To Hold Hearings On GLB Next Year
Individuals should have greater control and choice in how their financial information is shared and sold than what is provided in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, says the incoming chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
“I continue to believe that the balance struck in Gramm-Leach-Bliley was insufficient,” says Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who spoke at a recent meeting of the Consumer Federation of America, Washington.
As chairman of the Banking Committee, Shelby says he will hold hearings next year on the privacy provisions of GLB.
Under GLB, consumers can opt out of information sharing between their financial institutions and unaffiliated third parties in certain circumstances.
Shelby, a strong privacy advocate, has expressed support for requiring financial institutions to acquire the affirmative consent of consumers (called opt-in) before any information sharing, both with affiliated and unaffiliated parties.
Shelby dismisses comments by opponents of strong privacy protection that the real issue is dinnertime telemarketing calls.
“I believe most Americans may find these calls annoying, but what upsets them is not the rudeness of the interruption, but the feeling of insecurity,” Shelby says.
People are upset, he says, because strangers, those who do not even have a business relationship with the targets of the calls, know details of the private finances of individuals.
“It is the fact that they have access to this personal information about you that is unsettling,” Shelby says. “People feel less secure.”
He says it is interesting that when discussing individuals desire to protect personal information about themselves, it is called “privacy.”
But when discussing safeguarding institutions and business information, Shelby notes, it is called “security.”
In fact, he says, many of the same interests are protected. It just comes down to who has the power and control to gain access to the information, share it and use it.
Shelby says privacy is an important issue facing the financial markets. “If individuals do not feel that their information is secure, that they do not have the ability to control how their information is shared, and that there are not sufficient safeguards to protect against harm, they will ultimately lose trust in the market and seek to minimize their exposure in it where possible,” he says.