Marin to monitor San Mateo privacy suit

Daily Planet Wire Service
Wednesday September 18, 2002


SAN RAFAEL – The Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to have staff draft a consumer privacy ordinance by Oct. 15, giving the board time to monitor developments in a lawsuit filed by two banks against San Mateo County over a similar law. 

Last week, Marin supervisors tied 2-2 over whether to support a privacy ordinance similar to one in San Mateo County. Neither side backed down today from their earlier stances, but Supervisor Annette Rose, who was absent last week, mediated a compromise that appealed to everyone. 

Every person at today's meeting, from financial industry representatives to angry citizens, spoke in favor of tighter privacy laws that protect personal financial information but disagreed over the cost of implementing and defending such restrictions. 

Supervisor Cynthia Murray said that in a budget year when the county will be receiving $4 million less from the state, spending $200,000 to defend a symbolic ordinance seems frivolous when the money could be spent on child health care. 

Supervisor Harold Brown, who first proposed the ordinance last week, countered that argument by saying it is OK to spend money on lawsuits if they make a point to state legislators and prove to the public that the  

board is listening to their complaints. 

Rose said she supports the idea of a privacy measure and wants it in place soon, but she also worried about the cost of the lawsuit and expressed doubts about being able to enforce it. San Mateo County is dealing  

with the issues of cost and enforcement, she said, so it is in Marin County's best interest to wait a month before taking any firm action. 

The other four members of the board agreed. In the meantime, they decided to have legislation for the Oct. 15 meeting drafted to reflect developments in San Mateo County, where Bank of America and Wells Fargo have filed a lawsuit to stop its restrictive ordinance.