[EAS]Privacy Victory

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Thu Jun 20 18:04:51 EDT 2002

Subject:   Privacy Victory

(from ACLU Online:  June 20, 2002)


The ACLU has applauded the people of North Dakota for defending their
privacy by rejecting a ballot measure that would have allowed banks to
share customers' information without their permission.

"This vote was a stunning defeat for the powerful financial companies
who were trying to bamboozle the citizens of North Dakota into acting
against their own interests," said Jennifer Ring, Executive Director
of the ACLU of the Dakotas.

The battle over the ballot measure was a true David-and-Goliath story.
On one side were wealthy and powerful financial interests, including
major national banks and insurance companies. They ran a sophisticated
media campaign that included heavy television advertising, and
outspent the pro-privacy forces by a factor of at least 6-to-1.

The pro-privacy campaign was waged by a group of citizen-volunteers
led by Charlene Nelson, a homemaker and mother of three working out of
her home in Casselton. Until a last-minute $25,000 contribution by the
ACLU for radio ads, the privacy forces had reported donations of just

Despite this lopsided battle, unofficial results posted by the North
Dakota secretary of state show that more than 72 percent of those
casting ballots voted to protect their privacy. 

"If the voters in a small Midwestern state vote for privacy by more
than a three-to-one margin despite a deep-pockets media campaign
urging them not to, then politicians in Washington and Sacramento and
Albany ought to be listening," said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the
ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program. 

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