Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers

It's 2003... do you know where you are?

Not the physical you -- you're right there. But the little "digital you" that banks, credit-card firms, insurance companies, brokerage houses, and other corporations have created from personal information that that they've gleaned from you -- information you thought was private. For example, how much liquor have you charged to your credit card, what's your net worth, have you missed a loan payment, are you taking medicine for a sexual problem, what's your monthly take-home, did you make a series of one-nighter trips to Las Vegas last year?

All this and more is collected by your financial institutions and -- thanks to a little known law that congress passed four years ago -- those institutions now can share all of your personal data, compile it into a detailed profile, and store this digital you inside their computers. But they don't stop there -- the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act lets them give "you" to all of their conglomerate affiliates and to sell "you" to other corporations under joint marketing agreements. The digital you is their slave... and the actual you doesn't know which corporations have you or what they're doing with you.

You can thank former senator Phil Gramm for this theft of your privacy. At the behest of the industry (which, coincidentally, just happened to be his major campaign funder), Phil dutifully maneuvered this body-snatching bill into law. Gramm left the senate last year and was rewarded with -- what else? -- a fat cat job with a giant financial firm that had lobbied for this bill.

If you think that these privacy invaders should not be allowed to use and sell your personal information without getting permission from you in writing, you are not alone. People all across the country are outraged and are pushing for action to stop the privacy snatchers. There is both a bill and an intiative in California that would outlaw this corporate intrusion. If it passes there, other states will follow.

To join this fight for privacy, go to: californiaprivacy.org.

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