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William J. Clinton
Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 4049 - Privacy Commission Act
October 2, 2000
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(Rep. Hutchinson (R) Arkansas and 36 cosponsors)

While 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.

The 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.

Additionally, 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.

Citation: John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters,The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database). Available from World Wide Web: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74802.
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