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Assembly Insurance Committee Members Vote to Strip Insurance Consumers of their Privacy Rights; Pass “Peeping Tom” Bill to Exempt Insurers From New Privacy Act

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 13:53

The members of the Assembly Insurance Committee voted unanimously today to pass AB 981 and exempt the entire insurance and financial services industries from California’s new Privacy Act.

Tom Daly annoyed

Sacramento, CA — The members of the Assembly Insurance Committee voted unanimously today to pass AB 981 and exempt the entire insurance and financial services industries from California’s new Privacy Act.

A troupe of mimes dressed as insurance company mascots tracked lawmakers and lobbyists outside the hearing room to dramatize how the bill, sponsored by Committee Chair Tom Daly, would allow insurers to violate their policyholders' privacy.

"Assemblymembers will have to answer their constituents about why they voted to strip their privacy rights after taking a combined $1.1 million in campaign contributions from the insurance industry,” said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

Consumer Watchdog will alert the constituents of every Insurance Committee member via email and robo-calls about their vote and how much money they received from the insurance industry. Consumer Watchdog is working in partnership with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), together the groups have more than 600,000 Californians as members and subscribers.

“Companies that possess our most sensitive health and financial information must be held responsible and liable for guarding our data,” said Adam Scow, Senior Advocate for Consumer Watchdog. “If this legislation succeeds, Tom Daly will go down in history as ‘Peeping Tom Daly’ because he will have permitted a wholesale invasion of the privacy of California policyholders.”

Assemblymember Daly has received more than $183,000 in campaign contributions from insurance companies. Members of the Assembly Insurance Committee have received more than $1.1 million from the insurance industry.

A list of committee members and the contributions they received can be found here: https://consumerwatchdog.org/california-assembly-insurance-committee-contributions

The California Consumer Privacy Act takes effect in January and empowers consumers to prevent their personal information from being sold to other companies, gives consumers the right to see and delete the data companies collect about them, and allows consumers to sue reckless companies for data breaches.

In a formal opposition letter to AB 981, Consumer Watchdog counsel Michael Mattoch noted that: “In a deception of Orwellian proportions, this measure, billed as the Insurance Information Privacy Act, is simply a get out of jail free card to the entire insurance and financial services industry. Where the CCPA makes clear what any business must do to protect consumers, pre-existing law states what insurance and financial services businesses may do.”

The opposition letter can be read HERE.

The letter continued that, if AB 981 becomes law, “all consumers’ personal financial data will remain vulnerable to outdated security procedures and hacking. Consumers will be denied meaningful control over their own information and a private right of action to recover damages from a data breach related to their finances.”

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