Court ruling on “Do Not Call” list registry stirs ire of Congress

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CNN – Lou Dobbs Moneyline (6:00pm EST)

LOU DOBBS: Today’s ruling by a federal judge blocking the national “Do Not Call” registry calls attention to an issue that Corporate America and telemarketers would rather not publicize — you’re privacy, or your rather lack thereof. Most major banks share or even sell personal information about clients and that is with other companies.
Peter Viles, reports.

PETER VILES, CNNFn CORRESPONDENT: This ad for Pacific Life makes a simple promise, we don’t sell information about our clients to anyone, period. You’d think big financial companies would be able to take that pledge and you would be dead wrong. They share your information in a big way.

TRAVIS PLUNKETT, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: In shorthand we call it your financial DNA. This is what you spend your money on, what your credit card is used for, how much you spend, when, everything. It provides an astonishing amount of information that can be easily misused if someone chooses to do so.

VILES: Check out your bank’s privacy policy. Chase, quote, “we share information about you with other companies.” Bank One, quote, “we may share any of the personal information that we collect about you with companies or other organizations outside of the Bank One family.” Wells Fargo, “we share information with nonaffiliated third parties.” Citigroup, quote, “we may facilitate relevant offers from reputable companies.” There is so much information being shared, if you’re smart enough, you can go out and buy some of it yourself.

JAMIE COURT, FOUNDATION FOR TAXPAYER & CONSUMER RIGHTS: I was able to go on the Internet and buy for $26 the social security numbers of John Ashcroft, CIA Director George Tenet and just about every other cabinet member, that’s how available the information is. The home address, social security number available for $26 because the banks and insurers trade this information very freely.

VILES: One exception to the rule, Bank of America, which quote, “does not sell or share any customer information with marketers outside Bank of America.”

VILES: What has Congress done to protect your financial privacy? Not all that much. You can tell your bank not to share information with third parties but under federal law you can’t prevent your bank from giving your profile to its affiliates and banks have literally hundreds of business affiliates and share your information with them — Lou.

DOBBS: Pete, thank you very much. Peter Viles. I’m joined now by Congressman Billy Tauzin, he is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. His committee passed the legislation allowing regulators to create the “Do Not Call” registry and he says he’s confident this ruling won’t stand. He joins us from Washington. Congressman, good to have you with us.

REP. BILLY TAUZIN (R), LOUISIANA: Good to be with you.

DOBBS: This is a remarkable decision. What are you going to do about it? If it comes to that?

TAUZIN: Look, see, I’ve just signed the bill. This is a two sentence bill. I’ve just signed it. We’re going to file it as soon as I get off the show. Tomorrow it’s up by the floor, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) third up after the continuing resolution is passed on to keep the government open in October. And the Senate is preparing a similar bill they are going file tomorrow under unanimous consent. I predict by tomorrow, we will put on the president’s desk a bill for him to sign — this bill, that will give the FCC clear authority regardless of what this judge thinks and we’ll also put in place a “do not call” list October 1. This will get cured tomorrow.

DOBBS: Can you hear that sound, Congressman? That’s 50 million folks cheering right now.

TAUZIN: Not only that, but we’re going to hang up on the telemarketers with 50 million people tomorrow. I’m one of the 50 million, by the way. And 50 million Americans can’t be wrong, Lou. They want this, we want it, the president wants it. We’re going to deliver it tomorrow.

DOBBS: I think that a lot of viewers have to be stunned that the U.S. Congress is moving this quickly. I know that stunned or not, they’re deeply appreciative. I know, as one of the 50 million, so am I. There’s also the spam control legislation. How far will you reach there?

TAUZIN: Well, we’re not there yet. We’re in the process of negotiating with the Democrats on an acceptable version of the spam legislation. We have agreed on a version with the Judiciary Committee. We’re now negotiating with the Democrats on our committee to get a final version out. And it’s just as important. You ought to be able to say no to people that call you when you don’t want to be called in the evening with your family. You can today shut down unwanted mail at the post office by simply letting the Postal Service know you don’t want that mail. You ought to do the same thing with the computer.

To those who say this is a free speech issue, the answer is that this is not about speech, this is about your right not to hear, not to listen. And if you don’t want to listen — husband’s know this, Lou — it’s called selective hearing, remember?

DOBBS: I’m not going to join you there Congressman.

TAUZIN: If you don’t want to listen, you ought to be able to say, don’t call me, and get on this list. 50 million Americans have signed up for this. This court in Oklahoma’s not going to stop it.

DOBBS: Congressman Billy Tauzin, our compliments. We wish you, I think the expression would be appropriate here, Godspeed with the legislation. We thank you for taking time to be with us.

TAUZIN: Just remember Lou, the congress is a slow beast. But when 50 million Americans say they want something done, we can be a speedy rabbit.

DOBBS: You got it. Thanks a lot. Congressman Billy Tauzin.

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