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ICBA Files Letter on Privacy Amendments

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Washington, D.C. (March 30, 2004) - The Independent Community Bankers of America filed a letter with eight Washington agencies on possible amendments to federal privacy rules stemming from the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that would mandate the use of a short form for banks' privacy notices.

"ICBA, the nation's leading voice for community banks, has long advocated the creation of a short-form privacy notice," wrote Robert Rowe, regulatory counsel for ICBA. "However, since a short-form notice will require the redesign of forms, retraining of staff, and possibly reprogramming of software, use of a short form should be optional and not mandatory. This is especially important for community banks that already use a 'long' form that is actually relatively short because they do not share information outside one of the permitted exceptions and are not required to offer an opt-out," Rowe added.

The ICBA recommended that any optional short form notice should contain all required elements so it can be used instead of the existing long form. Otherwise it could be burdensome for banks and confusing for customers to have both a short form and a long form privacy notice. The ICBA also strongly encouraged the agencies to work to eliminate the annual notice requirement, especially for banks not required to offer an opt-out.

Community bankers reported to ICBA that the majority of their customers are not especially concerned about the disclosures in the privacy notice. "Most community banks have established trust and confidence with their customers," said Camden Fine, president and CEO of ICBA. "The privacy notice merely reaffirms a pre-existing trust and confidence."

For the full text of ICBA's comment letter, see www.icba.org/news/index.cfm?ItemNumber=879&sn.ItemNumber=1734.