“Massachusetts Financial Privacy Act”
Lead Sponsor: Senator Jamie Eldridge
Summary: Modeled after California’s strongest-in-the-nation consumer financial privacy law, this bill gives consumers control over their nonpublic financial information. Financial institutions would be required to get consumers’ permission (“opt-in”) before sharing consumer financial information with outside companies, and to notify consumers and give them the opportunity to halt information-sharing (“opt-out”) with affiliate companies.
Why This Matters: Current federal and state law offers consumers very little protection when it comes to controlling whether their personal information is shared or sold by their bank, insurance company or other financial institutions with which they do business. Under current law, consumers have no ability to stop financial institutions from sharing or selling personal information such as their buying habits, credit card balance, or payment history with affiliates.
This represents a fundamental invasion of consumers’ privacy. Most of us are very selective when it comes to disclosing private financial information to others. When banks and other financial institutions share or sell information about our account balances or spending habits without first getting our permission, they are violating our right and desire to keep this information private.
What this Bill Would Do:
This bill would give consumers the final say in how and whether their private financial information is shared:
Financial institutions would be required to get consumers’ permission (“opt-in”) before sharing consumer nonpublic financial information with outside companies.
- Financial institutions would also be required to notify consumers and give them the opportunity to halt information-sharing (“opt-out”) with affiliate companies.
- In both cases, financial institutions would be required to send user-friendly, “plain English” notification to their consumers of their rights under this law.
- Financial institutions would be barred from discriminating against a consumer or denying them access to a financial product solely because the consumer decided against allowing their information to be shared.
- Sharing of information would be allowed in certain special circumstances, such as to prevent identify theft, to locate missing persons or child support payments, or for law enforcement purposes.