The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) presently sells the manifest data on vessel shipments to companies that post the information online to paid subscribers. The relocation overseas of a transferee can often require the shipping by vessel of personal goods. Making public the personally identifiable information (PII) of the transferee including military personnel exposes them to identity theft, fraud and unwanted solicitations.
Last Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act, which would direct the Director of the CBP to remove the PII of individuals prior to making manifest data available for sale. However, the United States Senate did not act on the legislation before the end of the 115th Congress.
With the new Congress, Senators Daines (R-MT) and Peters (D-MI) reintroduced on May 2 the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act (S. 1302) and Representatives Crist (D-FL) and Waltz (D-FL) introduced the House companion bill (H.R. 2521) the next day.
The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) is leading the legislative efforts of outside organizations to correct the issue. Worldwide ERC® is actively involved on the legislation, as is the International Association of Movers, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, National Association of Realtors, the Air Force Sergeants Association, American Foreign Service Association, Association of the United States Army, Association of the United States Navy, Fleet Reserve Association, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Union.
S. 1302 and H.R. 2521 would amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to prevent the CBP from selling the PII of individuals who are shipping personal goods. The PII can include personal data such as Social Security numbers, home addresses and passport information. S. 1302 and H.R. 2521 would direct the CBP Commissioner to remove personally identifiable information from vessel manifests before the manifests are sold and made public.
How This Impacts Mobility
While it is not the intent of the CBP to post the sensitive data of individuals, the information currently provided often includes the personally identifiable information of mobile employees shipping household goods. The Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act enjoys wide bipartisan support and it is our hope the Congress will move it forward this year.