California financial privacy bill moves to Assembly for vote

This bill, SB-773, which was introduced by Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, intends to provide significant new protections to consumers regarding the sharing of personal financial information by financial institutions. It moved out of committee today and is now headed for a vote in the full Assembly.

Representatives of financial institutions told the committee Friday that Speier’s bill is unworkable, expensive and would be too confusing for customers.

Privacy advocates said it would give consumers a choice in how detailed financial information is shared among companies.

Speier said the bill’s main issue concerned private property rights and asked “what is more precious private property than our financial DNA?”

The County of San Mateo recently adopted an ordinance to protect consumers’ financial information privacy.

With this ordinance, San Mateo County has become the first jurisdiction in California to provide consumers privacy protections in excess of those found in federal law, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This ordinance would require financial institutions to ask for and receive consumer’s permission before disclosing consumer’s confidential information to third parties.

“The Board, with its unanimous vote, has signaled its commitment to protecting the interests of consumers. Requiring financial institutions to get permission before sharing confidential consumer information is the only meaningful way to truly gauge a consumer’s wishes,” said Supervisor Mike Nevin, author of the privacy ordinance. “Placing the responsibility on consumers to stop the selling of their information defies common sense.”

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