A freedom-focused grass-roots organization has issued a nationwide alert about a plan in Congress that would require credit card companies, eBay, Amazon, Google and other companies to report what you buy to the federal government.
FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey said the privacy implications are “breathtaking.”
“This is a provision with astonishing reach, and it was slipped into the bill just this week,” he said. “Not only does it affect nearly every credit card transaction in America, such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, but the bill specifically targets payment systems like eBay’s PayPal, Amazon and Google Checkout,” he said.
FreedomWorks said the provision is “hidden deep in Sen. Christopher Dodd’s 630-page Senate housing legislation.” It was added by the bill’s managers without debate and calls for a tracking and reporting system “on nearly every electronic transaction.”
“Privacy groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and small business organizations like the NFIB sharply criticized this idea when it first appeared earlier this year,” the FreedomWorks statement said.
“What is the federal government’s purpose with this kind of detailed data? How will this database be secured, and who will have access? Many small proprietors use their Social Security number as their tax ID. How will their privacy be protected? What compliance costs will this impose on businesses? Why is Sen. Chris Dodd putting this provision in a housing bailout bill? The bill also includes the creation of a new national fingerprint registry for mortgage brokers.”
The bill’s summary, FreedomWorks said, states:
Payment Card and Third Party Network Information Reporting. The proposal requires information reporting on payment card and third party network transactions. Payment settlement entities, including merchant acquiring banks and third party settlement organizations, or third party payment facilitators acting on their behalf, will be required to report the annual gross amount of reportable transactions to the IRS and to the participating payee. Reportable transactions include any payment card transaction and any third party network transaction. Participating payees include persons who accept a payment card as payment and third party networks who accept payment from a third party settlement organization in settlement of transactions.
“At a time when concerns about both identity theft and government spying are paramount, Congress wants to create a new honey pot of private data that includes Social Security numbers. This bill reduces privacy across America’s payment processing systems and treats every American small business or eBay power seller like a criminal on parole by requiring an unprecedented level of reporting to the federal government. This outrageous idea is another reason to delay the housing bailout legislation so that Senators and the public at large have time to examine its full implications,” FreedomWorks said.
FreedomWorks is chaired by Armey, the former U.S. House Majority leader, and pursues lower taxes, less government and more freedom by coordinating the work of thousands of grass-roots volunteers.
The activist organization is urging Americans to contact their congressmen and object to the plan.