Senate Bill touches off internet privacy debate

Press release from FreedomWorks:

Senate Housing Bill Requires eBay, Amazon, Google, and All Credit Card Companies to Report Transactions to the Government. Broad, invasive provision touches nearly every aspect of American commerce.

Washington, DC – Hidden deep in Senator Christopher Dodd’s 630-page Senate housing legislation is a sweeping provision that affects the privacy and operation of nearly all of America’s small businesses. The provision, which was added by the bill’s managers without debate this week, would require the nation’s payment systems to track, aggregate, and report information on nearly every electronic transaction to the federal government.

FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey commented: “This is a provision with astonishing reach, and it was slipped into the bill just this week. Not only does it affect nearly every credit card transaction in America, such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express, but the bill specifically targets payment systems like eBay’s PayPal, Amazon, and Google Checkout that are used by many small online businesses. The privacy implications for America’s small businesses are breathtaking.”

“Privacy groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and small business organizations like the NFIB sharply criticized this idea when it first appeared earlier this year. What is the federal government’s purpose with this kind of detailed data? How will this database be secured, and who will have access? Many small proprietors use their Social Security number as their tax ID. How will their privacy be protected? What compliance costs will this impose on businesses? Why is Sen. Chris Dodd putting this provision in a housing bailout bill? The bill also includes the creation of a new national fingerprint registry for mortgage brokers.

“At a time when concerns about both identity theft and government spying are paramount, Congress wants to create a new honey pot of private data that includes Social Security numbers. This bill reduces privacy across America’s payment processing systems and treats every American small business or eBay power seller like a criminal on parole by requiring an unprecedented level of reporting to the federal government. This outrageous idea is another reason to delay the housing bailout legislation so that Senators and the public at large have time to examine its full implications.”

From the Senate Bill Summary:

Payment Card and Third Party Network Information Reporting. The proposal requires information reporting on payment card and third party network transactions. Payment settlement entities, including merchant acquiring banks and third party settlement organizations, or third party payment facilitators acting on their behalf, will be required to report the annual gross amount of reportable transactions to the IRS and to the participating payee. Reportable transactions include any payment card transaction and any third party network transaction. Participating payees include persons who accept a payment card as payment and third party networks who accept payment from a third party settlement organization in settlement of transactions. A payment card means any card issued pursuant to an agreement or arrangement which provides for standards and mechanisms for settling the transactions. Use of an account number or other indicia associated with a payment card will be treated in the same manner as a payment card. A de minimis exception for transactions of $10,000 or less and 200 transactions or less applies to payments by third party settlement organizations. The proposal applies to returns for calendar years beginning after December 31, 2010. Back-up withholding provisions apply to amounts paid after December 31, 2011. This proposal is estimated to raise $9.802 billion over ten years.

Contact: Adam Brandon
Phone: 202-942-7612
Email: [email protected]

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Posted by at 05:38 | Posted in Measure 37 | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • This is a joke, right?

    Umm… Am I to understand that Republicans are freaking out about PRIVACY concerns?

    Seriously, this has got to be a joke, right? I mean, after warrantless wiretapping was OK and the Patriot Act’s secret courts and secret searches… having report their sales is some kind of overreach?

    What if a terrorist tries to buy a book on terrorist stuff? This bill helps protect America from terrorists! How come Dick Armey loves terrorists so much?

    • David from Eugene

      Read the fine print, this is a way to impose withholding taxes on internet and mail order sales. At the least it will mean additional paper work so you can prove you didn’t make a profit on the stuff from your attic you sold on eBay.

      • This is not a joke!

        No it’s not, David! It’s a weapon in our fight against terrorism, you terrorist-lover! If the Bush administration needs this information to help keep America free, I say that freedom’s on the march and we need to get in line behind it! Go America!

  • Jerry

    This Dodd guy is so out to lunch it almost funny. But, what do we expect from these power hungry, crazy people.
    This guy is sad.

  • David

    By the way this is not a new bill but rather the Senate substitute to the House amendments to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3221 and has already received Senate Approval.

  • Anonymous

    Holy s—

  • Martha

    One day soon we are going to wake up and they are not going to bother to pretend to not be Fascists anymore. It is sad that every American is not jamming DC’s streets with their bodies, waving pitch forks, demanding the immediate withdrawal and imprisonment of these traitors.

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