Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Olympia - July 9, 1999 - State Attorney General Christine Gregoire today announced the formation of a special task force to examine growing concerns over privacy issues related to businesses’ collecting, using and disseminating personal data about their customers.

Recent news reports that banks and other businesses are sharing personal data, including credit card numbers, have prompted dozens of consumers to complain to the Attorney General’s Office about the practice.

"It’s ironic that every day we warn consumers to be very careful about giving out personal data," said Gregoire, "while every day some of the businesses they trust the most are collecting and possibly sharing that information with others."

In response to consumer complaints, Gregorie said her office will investigate fraudulent telemarketers who have access to information received from banks. The task force, she said, will look for ideas to keep improper dissemination of private data from occurring.

Chaired by Seattle Attorney Jenny Durkan, the Consumer Privacy Task Force will:

  • Review an array of issues involved with the gathering and sharing of personal consumer data
  • Examine the adequacy and jurisdiction of current state consumer protection and privacy laws; and,
  • Recommend possible changes to strengthen consumer privacy protections to the legislature for consideration next session.

The committee includes representatives from private industry, local retailers, the financial community, elected officials, consumer advocates, law enforcement and state and federal government agencies.

"Gathering and sharing information about consumers has become big business," said Gregoire. "Sometimes people are asked to give their telephone or social security numbers just to purchase a pizza."

The first task force meeting will be held Wednesday, July 28 at the Attorney General’s Office in Olympia. The work group is expected to submit its final report and recommendations to the Attorney General later this year.