STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
(Rep. Hutchinson (R) Arkansas and 36 cosponsors)
the Administration agrees that the rapid growth of the Nation's
information-focused economy calls for reassessing the balance between
personal privacy and information use, the Administration is concerned
that the bill's Commission for the Comprehensive Study of Privacy
Protection could be used as a reason to delay much-needed privacy
legislation. The Administration opposes House passage of H.R. 4049.
Administration is working hard to retain the advantages that come from
new technologies while guarding against possible costs to privacy and
security that can come from misuses of those technologies. The American
people cannot afford to wait a year and a half, or likely more, to see
the creation of needed privacy protections. Specifically, action is
needed now in the areas of financial privacy, medical records privacy,
and genetic discrimination. There has already been extensive discussion
of these proposals within the Congress and among the stakeholders.
Further study of these topics by the proposed Commission would
duplicate the public examination that has already taken place, without
adding real value. For example, the proposed medical privacy rules that
become final this year will be the result of a multi-year process that
generated over 53,000 public comments, many in extensive detail. These
comments show a need for further action, not further study.
H.R. 4049 does not include a provision containing language similar to
that offered by Representative Waxman in the House Government Reform
Committee regarding the disclosure by financial institutions of
nonpublic personal information to affiliates and nonaffiliated third
parties. Such a provision would require the Federal banking agencies,
the National Credit Union Administration, the Secretary of the
Treasury, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Trade
Commission to promulgate final regulations to protect the privacy of
such information. The Administration also notes that, as with other
commissions on many important national issues, the President should
have a greater role in appointing Commission members.