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US Senate Passes Transferee Data Protection Provision

Eric House - Jun 10 2021
Published in: Public Policy
On 8 June, the U.S. Senate passed legislative language aimed at protecting the personally identifiable information of transferees shipping their personal household goods to the United States.

On 8 June, the United States Senate by a bipartisan vote of 68 to 32 passed a provision to protect the personally identifiable information (PII) of transferees and military personnel shipping their personal household goods to the United States. The provision was included in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260) which now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is presently required to make available the manifest data on vessel shipments to data brokers that post the information online to paid subscribers. The relocation overseas of a transferee often involves the shipping by vessel of personal household goods. Making public the PII (which includes Social Security Numbers, Passport Numbers, home addresses and other personal data) of the transferee including military personnel exposes them to identity theft, fraud and unwanted solicitations.

For the past four years, Worldwide ERC® has joined with the International Association of Movers (IAM) and the American Moving & Storage Association, which is now part of the American Trucking Association, in support of efforts to protect the PII of transferees. These efforts have centered around the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act sponsored by Senators Daines (R-MT) and Peters (D-MI) and Representatives Crist (D-FL) and Waltz (R-FL). The bill would direct the Director of the CBP to remove the PII of individuals prior to making manifest data available for sale. The House passed the bill by voice vote in the 115th Congress but the Senate did not act on the legislation before the end of Congress.

Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Crapo (R-ID) as Chair and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Finance Committee as well as Senators Daines and Peters championed the provision for the protection in S. 1260. The provision would direct the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to ensure that the PII of transfers and military personnel is removed from vessel, aircraft and vehicle manifests before being made public.

Securing the data of transferees is welcome news on one of the few legislative items that has a chance of passing this year in Congress. We will keep you posted of next steps for the bill in the House.

How This Impacts Mobility

While it is not the intent of the CBP to release the sensitive data of individuals, the manifests currently provided to data brokers often includes the PII of transferees and military personnel shipping household goods shipped to the United States. The CBP does not believe it has the authority under statute to remove the PII. The data brokers post the manifest information online to provide an analysis and trends on shipments not intending to expose the PII of transferees. This provision, if enacted, would correct this problem. Should any member have questions, please reach out to our Vice President of Member Engagement and Public Policy Rebecca Peters, rpeters@worldwideerc.org.