NU Online News Service, June 6, 2003, 4:01 p.m. EDT – The California Assembly Banking and Finance Committee has approved amendments to S.B. 1, a financial privacy bill sponsored by Sen. Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco.

Financial services trade groups have argued that the bill would put unreasonable restrictions on their activities and might backfire by cutting off the flow of information they need to serve consumers.

One new amendment that refers to insurers would let “insurance exchanges of a single insurance holding company” share personal information with one another, as long as they were in the same line of business and they were regulated by the same regulator.

Another amendment would let insurers combine the proposed financial privacy form with a privacy form that the state insurance law already requires them to use.

The amended version also recognizes the right of financial institutions to refuse to do business with consumers who fail to supply personal financial information, and it protects financial institutions from liability for failures to offer financial products to consumers as a result of consumers’ decisions to keep the financial institutions from sharing personal financial information.

A provision remaining from the original version specifically exempts insurance producers from the proposed privacy act. But producers would have to abide by the act if they shared information with affiliates or “nonaffiliated third parties.”

California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, has announced his support for the amended version of S.B. 1, saying it is even tougher than the original version.

“Californians don’t want private, personal information bought and traded like baseball cards,” Davis says in a statement about the bill.

Links to the text of the amended version of the bill, the original version and other information are available at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_1&sess=CUR&house=S&author=speier