Privacy group gets a point across in the sky

Published on

The Sydney Morning Herald

A privacy group in California has protested against Citigroup-backed legislation in the US Senate, which would gut state privacy laws, by hiring a professional skywriter to release the first five digits of the Citigroup CEO’s Social Security number.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) wrote between the clouds, in 15-story high numbers, the first five digits of CEO Charles Prince’s social security number above Citigroup headquarters at 53rd and Lexington in New York City to demonstrate that everyone’s privacy is at risk without better laws.

The federal bill backed by Citigroup – a version has already passed the House – will nullify California’s recent financial privacy law and preempt all future state legislation allowing consumers to say no to the sharing or selling of their private information among Citigroup’s 2400 affiliate companies.

California’s new privacy law mandates that financial institutions must ask permission before selling customers’ private information to other companies and cannot share private information among most of their affiliates against a consumer’s will.

US federal law allows widespread sharing of information among thousands of corporate affiliates even when a consumer says no. Under the pending legislation, federal law would be the only law allowed to exist.

FTCR says Citigroup has spent $US4.6 million so far this year lobbying for the bill on Capitol Hill.

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