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NEWS RELEASE
Jun 16, 2003


CONTACT: Jerry Flanagan - 415-633-1320 & Jamie Court - 310-392-0522 x327

Senator Speier To Amend Privacy Bill To Remove 45-Day Sharing Window and Ensure Written Consent

Consumer Group To Davis: Privacy Vote "Referendum" on Your Leadership
Senator Jackie Speier has agreed to fix loopholes in the long awaited financial privacy legislation that would have allowed banks to share a new customer's private information with affiliates for 45 days even if the consumer said "no" and to add clear provisions requiring financial institutions to obtain written consent before sharing information with third parties.

Previous versions of the financial privacy bill, SB 1, have foundered in the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee -- scheduled to vote on the bill tomorrow -- as a result of opposition from bank-friendly legislators.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) sent Governor Davis a letter today calling tomorrow's vote in the Assembly Banking Committee a key test of Governor Davis' leadership. (see below for text of letter) The Governor recently announced his support of SB 1, ending 3 years of opposition to the legislation.

"These amendments will address our two major concerns," said Jerry Flanagan, a consumer advocate with FTCR. "Now, it is up to the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee and Governor Davis to support new privacy protection and to not further weaken the bill."

"There may be no more critical barometer of your success in effectively communicating the reasons you should not be recalled than whether or not you are able to muster the will in the state house for helping to fulfill the California constitution's promise of an inalienable right to privacy," wrote FTCR executive director Jamie Court to Governor Davis. "No sitting Governor would be unable to win the support of key members of his own party for as popular a proposition as requiring written consent before private financial information is shared. If you make it known that this legislation is one of your top priorities, and a key to the future of the Democratic party, you are unlikely to be rebuffed by your fellow Democrats who now stand in the way of SB 1."

FTCR noted that it still had concerns with the bill, but that the bill deserved a fair hearing and that the addition of a clear written consent standard and removal of the 45-day sharing window for new accounts closed two major loopholes in the legislation. Consumer advocates said that they would continue to follow the debate and work to ensure that the bill received a fair hearing.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) has previously announced that it bought online the social security numbers of key players in the debate -- including Assembly Banking Committee members and Governor Davis -- in order to dramatize the vulnerability of every individual's private information.

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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is a non-profit and non-partisan consumer advocacy organization. For more information, visit us on the web at www.consumerwatchdog.org
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June 16, 2003

Governor Gray Davis
State Capital
Sacramento, CA 95814
VIA FACSIMILE

RE: Financial Privacy Legislation Vote Tomorrow Is Referendum On Your Leadership

Dear Governor,

The recall effort against you has shaken the foundations of this state. A critical test of your leadership will be whether financial privacy protection legislation that you have pledged your support for will succeed in the Assembly Banking Committee tomorrow.

Recent amendments have strengthened SB 1, so that it now requires written consent before private information is shared and a forty five day window allow banks to share information even after consent is denied has been closed.

The success or failure of SB 1 will be a referendum on your leadership on. Your resistance to the bill for three years and sudden change of mind two weeks ago has put you at the epicenter of the debate. There may be no more critical barometer of your success in effectively communicating the reasons you should not be recalled than whether or not you are able to muster the will in the state house for helping to fulfil the California constitution's promise of an inalienable right to privacy.

No sitting Governor would be unable to win the support of key members of his own party for as popular a proposition as requiring written consent before private financial information is shared. If you make it known that this legislation is one of your top priorities, and a key to the future of the Democratic party, you are unlikely to be rebuffed by your fellow Democrats who now stand in the way of SB 1.

Even if you are unable to persuade Assembly Banking Committee Members -- which is unlikely given a governor's significant influence over each and every one of their other bills --you should call on the Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson to replace those members of the committee who are obstacles for the day.

This is a wake up call, Governor. This key Assembly vote on financial privacy legislation tomorrow is a key test of whether you will be back.

Sincerely,

Jamie Court
Executive Director
FTCR

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