|March 14, 2000
Re: Docket No. 2000.13
This letter is written to express our concern with Regulations proposed to implement Title V of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. This concern is based on the common "slippage" between Congressional intent, the legislation voted upon, the regulations finally drafted, and enforcement.
Our industry is called "Judicial Judgment Enforcement". Judgments of the civil Court are the only mechanism in our legal system by which contracts are enforced and debts or damages are collected. Ours is only one of several industries which are concerned that the Congress not blur the lines between "privacy" and the necessary and legitimate use of purely identifying information in business and commercial data bases.
An important distinction to make is that of identity: a person*s full name, age, and address history. Taken together, these make up a person*s credit identity, and functions as a "license" to get credit. This is analogous in the public sector to a drivers license, which depends on accurate identifying information to sort out one driver from another. In the same way that the identifying information of a driver's license brings order to enforcement of the law on the highways, the purely identifying information in credit records brings order to commerce and the civil court system. Without the identifying information, chaos would reign.
The second important distinction is the difference between privacy and secrecy. "Secrecy" is a tool, which is commonly used in trying to escape consequences. Criminals "go on the lam" and use an alias in their attempts to escape their crimes. In similar fashion, many persons attempt to escape their legal obligations by moving and using other names. The most common attempted "escapes" are from child support, commercial debt obligations, and civil Judgments. Since these "escapes" are generally not criminal matters, it falls to the civil process to enforce these obligations. Without the ability to determine identity and whereabouts, the ordinary processes of commerce and the civil Courts could not function. As it is, less than 20% of all civil judgments are ever enforced.
The third distinction to make is that of credit information versus identifying information. A person's credit history is private information to be used with their permission in the granting of new credit. On the other hand, a person's identifying data is used to sort out one person from another. The present system of "header" information recognizes this distinction, and contains only identifying data. The remaining data, credit history, is not available to those without permissible purpose, as is already recognized under current law.
With all this in mind, we urge the utmost care and foresight if serious harm is not to be done to the basic fabric of commerce and functioning of the civil Court system.
Betty Pruitt and Mike Blust