For Immediate Release: March 31, 2003
Senator Says Insurance Lobby Killed Privacy Bill
It was a measure aimed at giving consumers more privacy and it had cleared both a Senate committee and the full chamber. But when it was sent over to the House of Representatives, lobbyists for the insurance industry worked to make sure the measure would never get out of committee. That's according to Senator Jim Reynolds, author of Senate Bill 552.
"From time to time, insurance companies send their customers a form letter which states unless the individual responds and declares otherwise, all of their personal information they share with that company can be made available to other companies," said Reynolds, R-OKC. "I know for a fact a lot of people don't even realize it. They get so much junk mail and so many offers from companies they already do business with they just throw those letters away. They don't realize they may be throwing away their privacy."
Under Senate Bill 552, the process would have been reversed. Unless a consumer responded with written permission to share personal information, the insurance company could not share or sell that information to a third party.
"Apparently sharing your personal information is a big side business for these insurance companies. I guess it's lucrative enough for them to kill this bill before it even had a fair hearing," commented Reynolds. "I just think it is a slap in the face to Oklahoma citizens and consumers."
Senator Reynolds said he would keep working to pass legislation to protect consumer privacy but said he was very disappointed in the behind the scenes demise of SB 552.
"Instead of coming to me and working
to find solutions that would solve this problem, the insurance companies
decided to go behind my back and kill this legislation. I think that's
something Oklahoma consumers need to know," said Senator Reynolds.
"As it stands today, Oklahoma citizens' private information is still
being marketed without their written consent."
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