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House Helps Consumers Cope with Voluminous Privacy Notices and Increases Oversight of Aircraft Sales to Iran


Washington, Dec 14 -

The House of Representatives passed two important bipartisan pieces of legislation from the Financial Services Committee on Thursday that would cut outdated Washington regulations and increase Congressional oversight of business Treasury authorizes with Iran.

H.R. 2396, the Privacy Notification and Technical Clarification Act

Sponsored by Representative David Trott (R-MI), the Privacy Notification and Technical Clarification Act would reduce confusion among consumers when they receive annual privacy notices from their financial institutions.  Under the measure, financial institutions would not be required to send in the mail, written versions of their annual privacy policies,  if they post those policies on the Internet and notify consumers on their monthly billing statement.  Consumers would still receive written notifications if the privacy policy has changed.

“The bill simply says if a financial institution does not change their privacy notification, they don’t have to send out a paper notification that creates more costs that gets passed on to the customer, that nobody reads in the first place,” said Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).  “We must vigilantly ensure that our constituents are receiving effective disclosure -- not just voluminous disclosure, but effective disclosure -- of material items written in clear, understandable, common language.  No voluminous disclosure of irrelevant items written in legalese and fine print.”

Rep. Trott said, “When companies inundate individuals with pages and pages of legalese, the details are lost and the important information is hidden. This critical legislation finally addresses the current avalanche of confusing notices consumers receive in the mail by modernizing the privacy notification process, and improving transparency and accountability. This commonsense bill will cut down on the high compliance costs these companies are forced to pass along to consumers, while increasing consumer access to important privacy information. I applaud my colleagues on the Financial Services Committee and the House for passing this bipartisan legislation and look forward to the Senate’s consideration of this important measure.”

H.R. 2396 was previously approved by the Financial Services Committee with a bipartisan vote of 40-20. It passed the House 275-146.

H.R. 4324, the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act

The Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act passed the House 252-167.  The bill requires the Treasury Secretary to report to Congress on financial transactions authorized in connection with commercial passenger aircraft sales to Iran.

On March 24, 2016, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a general license that permitted U.S. aircraft manufacturers to begin negotiations with Iran as part of the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. Since that time, OFAC has issued specific licenses to permit the export of over 200 aircraft.

These licenses include authorization for U.S. financial institutions to undertake all financial transactions necessary to effectuate the sale of the aircraft. Such an authorization would potentially mean that U.S. citizens’ deposits and investments could be used to finance Iran, which the State Department characterizes as “the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism” and which the Treasury Department classifies as a “jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern.”

“While I and many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle find these aircraft sales and their financing deeply troubling, Mr. Williams’s bill is about something much simpler,” Chairman Hensarling said. “The gentleman from Texas has given all Members an opportunity – no matter what their views on the Iran nuclear deal may be – to support transparency and Congress’s right to basic information.”

“Today, I am very proud to see my bill, H.R. 4324, the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act, pass out of the House of Representatives. It is past time for the U.S. to prioritize their own interests, rather than allowing a rogue nation to exploit our financial system,” said Rep. Williams.  “This commonsense legislation will improve the much needed Congressional oversight on aircraft sales licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department to Iran, while protecting the national security interests of the American people. I thank Chairman Hensarling for his support on this critical legislation, and to my House colleagues for casting a vote to put America first.”