Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

February 20, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., will formally support a bill that would protect the privacy of consumers who transact business with online merchants, establish an Online Consumer Advocacy Unit in his office, and establish a task force to study Maryland laws and policies regarding the collection, distribution and privacy of personal information by technological means.

"Consumers should be in control of their own personal information," Attorney General Curran said.

Curran is scheduled to testify on behalf of House Bill 14 before the House Economic Matters Committee on Wednesday, February 21 at 1 p.m., Room 150, Lowe House Office Building, Annapolis.

Citing surveys showing a significant majority of consumers who are concerned about protecting their personal information but who are unaware of how much information is being collected about them online and what they can do to protect their personal information, Curran will describe recent examples of privacy pitfalls reported to his office. He will tell members of the Committee that where consumers go on the Internet is being extensively monitored and shared, generally without the consumer's knowledge, and about the greater opportunities for misuses of personal information in the forms of identity theft and the E-equivalent of telemarketing calls.

Additionally, the Attorney General will discuss a "Statement of Privacy Principles" prepared by his office together with the Attorneys General of other states, which parallels House Bill 14 in many ways, such as the proposal that a merchant obtain a consumer's consent before collecting or sharing the consumer's information. Curran's office is also working with members of the Congressional Privacy Caucus to push for the enactment of federal privacy legislation that would incorporate the "opt-in" policy contained in the Privacy Principles and HB 14.