Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act Passes in U.S. House

On Tuesday, April 17, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 4403).  H.R. 4403 would amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to prevent U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) from selling the personally identifiable information (PII) of individuals who are shipping personal goods through U.S. seaports.  

The American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) and International Association of Movers (IAM) have led the efforts on the legislation, which Worldwide ERC® strongly supports. 

The relocation overseas of a transferee can often require the shipping by vessel of personal goods. Making public the personally identifiable information of the transferee exposes them to identity theft, fraud and unwanted solicitations; and S. 998 and H.R. 4403 would solve this issue. 

Specifically, it would direct the CBP Commissioner to remove personally identifiable information from vessel manifests before the manifests are sold and made public. 

The CBP presently sells the manifest data on vessel shipments to companies which analyze the commercial data and provide reports as well as the raw information to its clients. However, the information of individuals shipping goods is also captured in the data sent to the vessel manifest information companies. The information can consist of personal data such as Social Security numbers, home addresses and passport information. The companies then post the manifest information online for its subscribers to access. The posting of this sensitive data makes transferees shipping goods through U.S. ports targets for identity theft, financial fraud and unwanted solicitations. While individuals, or their representatives, shipping goods can submit a certification to request that their information be withheld, the processing of the certification can take months and confidentiality is not automatically granted.  

Congressmen Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 4403 on November 15, 2017, as a companion bill to S. 998 which Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced on May 1, 2017. With passage by the House, H.R. 4403 has now been referred to the Senate and specifically the Committee on Finance for consideration. Since the bill enjoys wide bipartisan support, the hope is the Senate will expedite passage of H.R. 4403.

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