'60 Minutes II' Airs Financial Privacy Piece Tonight

If the “60 Minutes II” Web page is any indication, tonight's segment on financial privacy may be unkind to the direct marketing industry.

The program's page within the network Web site for CBS at www.cbs.com features a promo for the segment that reads, “Why are you getting so many annoying calls at night? The answer may annoy you even more. Find out how banks and other financial institutions may be sharing your personal information with telemarketers.”

If the segment is less than flattering, it won't surprise one direct marketer who was interviewed for the piece. Vinod Gupta, chairman/CEO of infoUSA, spoke with program correspondent Scott Pelley in late December while a camera crew filmed footage at the firm's Omaha, NE, headquarters.

In an interview with DM News after the taping, Gupta expressed his belief that the issue would be blown out of proportion and that the show would make DMers look bad.

But he added that it was better to have a say than to refuse to talk for the segment, and he doubted that much would come out of the segment regarding consumer backlash or further regulation.

Though it is unclear what footage will appear in the finished piece, Gupta showed Pelley his own consumer information file during the visit.

It won't be the first time the direct marketing industry is part of a “60 Minutes” privacy story. Correspondent Leslie Stahl narrated a 1999 piece that focused on the DM industry's activities online.

And like the last time, the show's producers made their intentions known at the Direct Marketing Association's fall show in San Francisco, which was held in October. Similarly to 1999 when a “60 Minutes” crew was on the floor of the Toronto conference, the DMA escorted them around the exhibit hall to shoot “B” footage. It is unknown whether any of that footage will be shown tonight.

The segment likely will feature California state Sen. Jackie Speier, co-author of a state bill that would mandate opt-in consent for the sharing of financial data. Though it was defeated in the state Assembly in September, Speier reintroduced it this year.

California is known for state privacy laws that go beyond federal laws. This bill is a reaction to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1999, which took effect July 1, 2001. Under GLB, financial institutions must provide clear disclosure of their privacy policies regarding the sharing of nonpublic personal information with affiliates and third parties, and give annual notice to consumers and a chance to opt out of sharing nonpublic personal information with nonaffiliated third parties.

“60 Minutes II” airs today at 9 p.m. ET and will contain the financial privacy piece, barring any last-minute changes.

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