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Jewish World Review June 19, 2001 / 29 Sivan, 5761

Barry Rabin

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Consumer Reports

Our Privacy Policy: You HAVE None! -- Received any of those nifty “Privacy Policy” pamphlets in the mail lately?

You know, the ones everyone’s banks and brokerage companies have been spamming out in the mail like so much confetti, tucked in between ads for yet more “exciting” financial services?

I’d received a couple dozen of these small-print beauties before I got bored enough one day to actually stop and read one of them. I soon learned that the recently-passed federal “privacy law" – officially known as the “Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999” (though I prefer to call it simply the “Leech Act”) – actually protects your privacy about as much as would wearing clear Saran Wrap pants to go grocery shopping.

To save you the time, effort and brain capacity it might take you to actually read your bank or brokerage’s little love note (especially since you’ve probably already used it to get your barbecue grill started), I haven taken the liberty of summarizing it below:

Dear Depositor or Investor:

Because we value your business and revere your rights to personal privacy so much that it sometimes makes us cry from the sheer emotion of it all, we are hereby presenting you with our brand-spanking-new Information Privacy Policy, which goes as follows:

1) We may share some of your personal information, but only with the following types of companies: a) Companies with which we have a “business relationship;” b) Companies with which we’d LIKE to have a “business relationship;” and c) Anybody else who pays us money.

2) The term “personal information” may include any of the following:

a) Your name, address and telephone number;
b) How much money, stocks and/or bonds you have with us;
c) Your federal and state tax returns from the past 20 years;
d) How much money you earn and exactly what you spend it on;
e) Your entire sexual history dating back to puberty;
f) How much you paid for your house, your car and your recent plastic surgery;
g) Any and all of your personal affairs which we may learn about by bugging your house, wiretapping your telephone, etc.;
h) Your innermost secret thoughts, but only to the extent that we can find a way to suck them out of your brain; and
i) Anything else we can possibly find out about you.

3) You have the right to “opt out” of this disclosure of personal information if you choose. To exercise your right to “opt out,” you and your entire family must appear on the window ledge outside of the 45th floor of our Bangkok, Thailand offices on Friday, December 24th between the hours of 2:45 and 3:00 a.m., each holding an 80-pound bag of crushed stone and a bathtub. You must then write out and hand to us a formal letter asking to “opt out” in every language currently spoken in any part of the world in which we do business, including local native dialects.

4) We may come to your house while you are sleeping and remove some or all of your internal organs. We will do this unless you tell us not to before we have finished removing them. These may include your liver, kidneys, pancreas, spleen, heart, lungs, small and large intestines, ovaries, testicles and brain. We will then sell your organs and keep all of the money for ourselves. In the event that a court of competent jurisdiction should determine that this provision is unlawful, we will mail your organs back to you, parcel post, for reinstallation by you at your convenience.

5) You have certain rights if you feel “aggrieved” by this policy. Specifically, you have the right to contribute millions of dollars (like we did) to the political parties, senators and congressmen who made the privacy laws so incredibly lax and one-sided that we can buy and sell you like cattle. You have the right to hire high-priced lobbyists in Washington or your state capitol (like we did) to buddy up to those same legislators and sell your privacy rights down the proverbial river. And finally, you have the right to sponsor (like we do) lavish parties, golf outings and foreign travel junkets to hobnob with those legislators. Just remember that whatever you do, we have a lot more money than you do!


JWR contributor Barry Rabin is a lawyer and humor writer (REALLY!). Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Barry Rabin