Housing bill provision harms privacy, says diverse coalitionMortgagePress.comCEI, Bob Barr, ACLU, ACU, fingerprint registry, Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 Leaders of liberal, conservative, and libertarian policy groups, from the American Conservative Union to the American Civil Liberties Union, have banded together to oppose a provision of the Senate housing bill that would establish a mandatory fingerprint registry for many workers in the mortgage and real estate industries. In a letter sent to Senate leaders June 24 about the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (currently being debated on the Senate floor) 16 signatories write that "the provisions would reduce privacy without any rational justification." Sent under the auspices of the bipartisan Liberty Coalition, the letter is also signed by former Rep. Bob Barr and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Citing the bill's own stark language, the letter notes that the provisions would require any worker defined as a "loan originator" to "furnish & fingerprints for submission to the Federal Bureau of Investigation" and a host of other government agencies. The term "loan originator" is defined in the bill as anyone who negotiates mortgage terms or prepares loan packages. This definition could cover thousands of "low-level clerical employees and part-time and seasonal workers," the letter points out. The policy groups also state that they are "troubled by the scope of this requirement and the lack of a justification as to how this would serve the goal of reducing mortgage fraud." The letter notes that there was little, if any, public debate on how fingerprinting would reduce subprime woes. The letter also states concern about the bill's lack of safeguards for the data collected. Noting the problem of identity theft of fingerprints, the groups note "the bill contains few restrictions on access to the data and does not specify how it should be protected." The ideologically diverse signatories conclude the letter by urging the lawmakers to strip the fingerprint mandates from the bill "and oppose any final legislation containing them." Fred L. Smith Jr., president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and John Berlau, Director of CEI's Center for Entrepreneurship, are among the signatories of the letter. For more information, visit www.cei.org.