Daines' privacy bill passes Senate
Daily Inter Lake | March 17, 2023 12:00 AM
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines’ legislation that would protect the privacy of Americans traveling or moving overseas unanimously passed the Senate on March 9.
The bill requires the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to remove any personally identifiable information from cargo manifests before releasing them publicly, which according to Daines, helps to protect the personal data of U.S. citizens moving overseas, including transfers and military personnel shipping their household goods.
“My bipartisan bill would help protect Montanans’ privacy and limit identity theft and fraud by removing that personal information from public manifests,” Daines told the Inter Lake this week. “This is a no brainer, and I’ll keep working to get this bill signed into law.”
The legislation, titled “Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act,” comes after a nationwide increase in identity theft, according to a statement from Daines’ office. Under current law, the border agency requires a manifest sheet in order to disclose and document the cargo traveling over an international border, which includes collecting personally identifiable information.
The agency currently offers a process where an individual can request confidentiality through applying for it with an electronic vessel manifest confidentiality application, but this legislation looks to remove all personal information before the sale or publication of the manifest.
This act amends the previous manifest disclosure process by explicitly removing names, addresses, Social Security numbers, passport numbers and other personal information before the manifest sees the public eye.
Moving companies and individuals have supported the initiative from the start, according to Daines’ office.
In a letter to the senator from 2017, Gregory Lindstrom, who at the time was the president of Hi-Line Moving Service Inc. in Great Falls, asks Daines to be attentive to a the issue, which centers on the regulation that all vessel manifest information be delivered by border patrol to a third-party broker or other requester.
“The personally identifiable information is then being used to spam these customers once they return home or in the worst cases are used for identity theft or credit card fraud,” Lindstrom wrote.
The act was introduced in the past four legislative sessions, first in 2017, often as a part of a bigger package of legislation. It previously passed the Senate in 2021 as a part of what is now known as the CHIPS Act, but did not make the final passage cut.
This session, the act’s fourth go around, has been successful thus far by itself. The bill was passed in the U.S. Senate and is now transitioning to be heard in the U.S. House.
The legislation has garnered support from the American Trucking Associations, the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council, the International Association of Movers, the Senior Executives Association, and the National Association of Realtors.
Daines introduced the bill alongside U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan and Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, also joined in introducing the bill.
“Montanans’ private, personal information should never be jeopardized just because they’re moving or traveling abroad,” Daines said in a press release. “Safeguarding Americans from identity theft and fraud is a top priority of mine. I’m glad to see my commonsense, bipartisan bill pass the U.S. Senate.”
Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 758-4459.