Reason: Database Nation: The upside of "zero privacy": "Not content with existing rules, privacy activists have been pressing for more regulations targeting U.S. businesses. Their recent successes include the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, better known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which regulates the data collection practices of financial services firms. The law has resulted in millions of disclosure statements mailed to consumers, who routinely ignore them. Then there's the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which regulates medical care providers. Credit bureaus are covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. More efficient and less burdensome are the state laws known as privacy torts. Those punish snoops who pry into someone else's private affairs, anyone who publicly discloses embarrassing private facts, and publicity that shows someone in a false light. Jim Harper, a former Capitol Hill staffer who runs the advocacy site Privacilla.org, says left-leaning privacy advocates have willfully ignored state privacy torts when arguing for more-intrusive regulations. 'Privacy advocates and others have helped to foster the impression that there is no law protecting Americans,' Harper says. 'This is a violation of the trust that many have placed with them. Substantial criticisms of the privacy torts can be made, but they should be made directly, rather than by telling the press, the public, and public officials that no privacy-protecting law exists in the United States.'"
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