ACLU: Financial Privacy Update 4/2/99

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The following bulletin has been forwarded from the American Civil Liberties Union Action Network For further background, see and in our archives.

TO: ACLU Action Network
FROM: Penny Crawley, ACLU Cyber Organizer
DATE: April 1, 1999

Momentum around a financial privacy bill is building after more than 250,000 Americans took a stand against the so-called "Know Your Customer" banking regulations.

The proposed "Know Your Customer" regulations would have required banks to profile their customers, monitor their financial transactions, and report certain unusual transactions as "suspicious" to the super-secret Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at the Treasury Department. These proposed regulations were withdrawn by the FDIC earlier this week.

Even though the proposed "Spy on Your Customer" regulations were withdrawn, banks will continue to spy on their customers. That's because regulations under the Bank Secrecy act require banks to report their customers as suspects" to a super-secret agency in the Treasury Department. Bankers are supposed to file a "Suspicious Activities Report" whenever the banker has "reason to suspect" that a large transaction is unusual for the customer and the "bank knows of no reasonable explanation for the transaction."

There may be a fix, however. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) has introduced HR 518, which would repeal the statute used to justify bank spying. HR 518 would also prevent bank regulators from enacting "Know Your Customer" regulations in the future.

Fight for your financial privacy! Send a FREE FAX to your Representative urging him or her to support HR 518 from the ACLU web site at:

For extra credit, you can also turn the tables by getting to "Know Your Banker!" Check out the "Know Your Banker" feature on the ACLU web site at:

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Issue #85, 4/2/99 Announcements | Portland, Oregon Police Called to Account for Surveillance Operation | Two New Polls Show Strong Public Support for Drug Policy Reform | Courts Place Limits on Drug Testing in Workplace, Schools | Hash Bash Draws Ire of State Lawmakers | California Democrats Give Nod to Industrial Hemp | Government Reports: Prison, Drug Use Trends | ACLU: Financial Privacy Update | Editorial: Funding the Unknown Soldier

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