narrows the broad “legitimate need” purpose for which credit reports can be disseminated. Consumer credit reports cannot be furnished for employment purposes except if the employer certifies that the employee has consented in writing.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (1999) requires financial institutions to notify consumers of their privacy policies and gives them the opportunity to prevent disclosure of nonpublic personal information about them to nonaffiliated third parties. It also makes the practice of “pretexting” unlawful (i.e., seeking financial information under the pretext of being the customer). See Section 6.3 for more on the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
In the area of electronic communications (including telephone, pager, and computer-based communications), Congress has passed several acts.
The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act (1968) in Title III sets forth specific requirements for conducting telephone wiretaps. The legislation today is typically known as the Title III Wiretap Act. Under Title III legislation, law enforcement authorities must usually obtain a warrant based on a court’s finding that “there is probable cause [to believe] that an individual is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a particular offense … [and that] normal investigative procedures have been tried and have failed or reasonably appear to be unlikely to succeed if tried or to be too dangerous.” Only certain federal crimes may be investigated under Title III authority (e.g., murder, kidnapping, child molestation, racketeering, narcotics offenses), and Title III also has a variety of provisions that minimize the intrusiveness of the wiretap on telephonic communications that are unrelated to the offense being investigated, provide for civil and criminal penalties for law enforcement officials or private citizens who violate its provisions, and allow the suppression of evidence obtained in violation of the central features of Title III requirements, even if such evidence meets the relevant Fourth Amendment tests.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (1978), enacted as a reaction to an asserted executive branch authority to conduct wiretaps without restriction in intelligence matters, establishes mechanisms through which court-approved legal authority for obtaining a wiretap can be granted. Passed at the time with strong support from the American Civil Liberties Union, this extent of this law’s reach is now being challenged, as discussed in Chapter 9.
The Cable Communications Policy Act, 47 U.S.C. 551 (1984), requires cable services to inform their customers of the nature of personally identifiable information and the use of that information, and also places restrictions on the cable services’ collection and disclosure