Clinton Signs Bank Bill, Calls for Stricter Privacy Provisions

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President Clinton on Friday called for stricter privacy provisions to be imposed on Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which he signed into law after it easily passed the House and Senate earlier this month. The long-awaited bill will allow banks, insurance companies and brokers to enter into each other's businesses, and allows for the sharing of customer information among financial institutions under the same corporate umbrella. Its provisions, including mandating an opt-out opportunity for customers to prevent their information from being shared with outside firms, are relatively friendly to direct marketers of financial services products.

Clinton said he did "not believe that the privacy protections go far enough" and said that he would work with the Treasury to develop more stringent privacy proposals to introduce next year.

"Without restraining the economic potential of new business arrangements, I want to make sure every family has meaningful choices about how their personal information is shared within corporate conglomerates,'" Clinton said.

Meanwhile, Reps. Edward J. Markey, D-MA, and Joe Barton, R-TX, last week introduced the "Consumer's Right to Privacy Act" seeking to change the financial reform bill to mandate an opt-in scenario in which consumers would have to give their permission before their information could be shared. It also has other provisions to strengthen the privacy protections for consumers. Similar legislation also was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Richard Shelby, R-AL, and Richard Bryan, D-NV.

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