Senate Passes FCRA Without Opt-in Amendment

Not only did the U.S. Senate approve the Fair Credit Reporting Act with permanent state pre-emption intact yesterday, it did so without an amendment that would have mandated opt-in consent for the sharing of financial data.

The FCRA passed the Senate 95-2.

California's senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, had pushed to have the FCRA amended to reflect a piece of legislation that the state had passed over the summer.

The California law mandated opt-in consent for the sharing of financial data and would have taken effect July 1, 2004, if the FCRA pre-emption were not made permanent.

The California legislation S.B. 1 was authored by state Sen. Jackie Speier and passed Aug. 19 after amendments were made and several financial institutions backed down in their opposition to avoid a stricter March ballot initiative. Gov. Gray Davis signed the bill into law Aug. 27.

The revised FCRA was unanimously approved in the Senate Banking Committee on Sept. 23 with the pre-emption in place as well as several added safeguards against identity theft such as the availability of free annual credit reports for all consumers. It passed Sept. 10 in the House of Representatives with a 392-30 vote.

The pre-emption provision, set to expire Jan. 1, prevents state and local governments from enacting stronger protections for credit data.

The bill now heads to a conference committee. The Bush administration voiced its support for the legislation.

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