**World News Tonight** Jun 21, 2001
6:30-7:00 PM ABC
C MMI American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Segment: Profile: Companies may have the right to share private
information with other companies if consumers don't return
information saying otherwise
PETER JENNINGS, anchor:
We're going to begin this evening with a small, easy-to-miss document
that millions of Americans concerned about their privacy may have
overlooked. And this is it. About a billion of these have been mailed
to 100 million Americans. And if you have not filled it out and sent it
back in the next nine days, banks and credit card companies, credit
unions and insurance companies will have the right to share whatever
private information they have about you with just about anybody else in
the financial business. Today, in Washington, there was suddenly some
very public resistance to this. ABC's in--John Martin is in Washington
this evening. John, first of all tell us, how did this sneak up on
JOHN MARTIN reporting:
Peter, I--I guess you could blame it on just a busy society, everybody's
so distracted. This new law, the Financial Modernization Act, gives
consumers rights, but they've got to act quickly, by July 1st.
(VO) David Powell received 30 privacy notices in his financial statements
in the last two month. He did not pay much attention, until his wife
Ms. LISA POWELL: And I started to explain it to David what was going on,
and he just thought I was paranoid, but it's our rights.
MARTIN: (VO) The average household is receiving 15 of these notices from
banks, credit card companies, mortgage lenders and others. The problem
is that they come buried among solicitations. This one is 1,745 words
long, with six boxes to check. Maybe that's why a recent survey shows 60
percent of Americans can't recall receiving one or just did not read it.
Today, consumer advocates complained that the law is defective and
petitioned federal agencies to postpone the July 1st deadline.
Mr. ED MIERZWINSKI (US Public Interest Research Group): Not only are the
notices deceptive, but the new law itself is defective.
MARTIN: (VO) Advocate Ralph Nader thinks the law has it the wrong way
around for consumers.
Mr. RALPH NADER (Consumer Advocate): They should be able to control it
without doing anything. They should be able to, in effect, say to the
financial corporations, unless we give you the affirmative OK, you can't
sell this information about us all over the world.
MARTIN: (VO) The American Bankers Association says the forms are not a
burden, but an opportunity.
Mr. JOHN BYRNE (American Bankers Association): The bottom line is we want
you to read this, it's not junk mail.
MARTIN: (VO) As the deadline approaches, resistance may be growing.
Ms. LINDA DOUGLAS (Bank Customer): With my information you never--with a
lot of people you don't know who's going to get a hold of it and what
they're actually using it for.
MARTIN: Still, with only nine days left, the bankers say that only one
half of one percent of all the people who've received these notices have
told the financial companies, `No, don't send out my information.' Peter:
JENNINGS: Thanks, John. John Martin in Washington.