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PI Legislation

  • October 13, 2010
  • by Larry Sabbath

Although Members of Congress have left Washington in advance of the November election, several bills of concern to private investigators are still pending. Congress is scheduled to reconvene on November 15 to complete essential tax and appropriations measures, but they can still consider other matters, including some of concern to PIs. As an indication that some privacy issues are still of interest to Congress, the Senate passed S 3789, the Social Security Number Protection Act, immediately before leaving town. In addition, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced a data breach notification bill, HR 6236, on September 28. It appears to be identical to Senator Dianne Feinsteins legislation. As drafted, the bills require the protection of personal data and the reporting of data breaches. But as this Congress winds down, there are several pending bills that could be considered:

HR 2221, the "Data Accountability & Trust Act" by Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL), and S 3742, the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2010 by Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR). NCISS supports the requirement to protect data and report breaches. But we believe the definition of information broker needs to clarify that it is not intended to include private investigators. HR 2221 has already passed the House. S 3742 may be considered in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation this year. The definition of information broker is problematic because under the bill information brokers are restricted from using pretexting to obtain certain personal information.

HR 3149, the Equal Employment for All Act: Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced HR 3149, which would effectively ban the use of credit reports for employment purposes even with an employee's consent. There are very limited exceptions for government employees and bank supervisors. Hearings have been held in the House Financial Services Committee. The bill is popular with some Members of Congress because of sympathy for persons whose credit records declined because of loss of employment. NCISS has been working with a coalition to prevent adoption of the bill.

Truth in Caller ID Act: These bills (S-30/HR 1258) prohibit telephone spoofing of caller IDs. The bills have passed each House. NCISS prefers the specific language of S-30, which makes clear that only those uses of spoofing that cause harm should be prohibited. The House and Senate have yet to work out the differences between the bills.

Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act of 2010: Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced HR 5300 to try to improve the accuracy of the FBIs criminal database. NCISS opposes a provision of the bill which would drop arrest records after 12 months when there is no record of the disposition of the arrest. The International Association of Investigative and Security Regulators has also expressed its concern.

Best Practices Act HR 5777, by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), would require notice and consent for the collection of some personal information. Unless amended significantly, it would impede lawful investigations. NCISS opposes the bill in its current form. Congressman Rush may schedule a vote in Committee this year. Recently, Intel, Microsoft and eBay have endorsed the measure which may provide some momentum.

Surreptitious Video Surveillance Act: Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) introduced this bill in response to allegations that a school district had obtained video images from webcams in computers that students had taken home. The bill would ban surveillance in residences where there is an expectation of privacy. The Senators staff has agreed to language suggested by NCISS to make clear that these limitations apply only in the residence. But the bill has yet to be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HR 3306, the "Social Security Number Privacy & Identity Theft Protection Act" by Representative John Tanner (D-TN): This legislation does not include any provision that would allow private investigators continued access to information critical to conducting lawful investigations. It is identical to legislation that passed the Ways & Means Committee last Congress. There has been no action on the bill this Congress.

Provided for by Washington D.C. based NCISS Legislative Advocate Larry Sabbath. Direct questions about any of these bills or other federal legislation to NCISS Legislative Chair Jimmie Mesis at [email protected].

Have news from your state? Send it to [email protected] and we will include it in an upcoming News Roundup. You can also request to receive our monthly e-mail reminder asking for your private investigator news.

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