Senators Lankford, Daines, Hoeven, Peters Launch Bipartisan Effort to Protect Americans’ Privacy

WASHINGTON, DC —Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Gary Peters (D-MI) reintroduced a bipartisan bill to require US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to remove personally identifiable information (PII), which includes social security and passport numbers, from public disclosure. A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Charlie Crist and Michael Waltz. 

“Those serving our nation abroad should not have to constantly look over their shoulder afraid that their identity could be stolen, credit card fraud, or unwanted solicitations during a move. This commonsense legislation requires CPB to remove personally identifiable information before making ship manifest sheets publicly available. I commend Senators Daines and Peters for their work on this bill again this Congress to protect our service members & their families,” Lankford said.

“Montanans and the American people need assurance that their private information is safeguarded from all threats. This commonsense legislation ensures transparency as well as security in protecting our citizens from identity theft and fraud,” Daines said.   

“It is common sense that military members’ private information and identities be protected when they return from a deployment overseas. Our bill revises CBP statutes to ensure this private information, which is logged when servicemembers’ personal property is shipped back into the U.S., is not publicly disclosed,” Hoeven said. 

“At a time when identify theft schemes have become increasingly more frequent and sophisticated, we must take steps to help Americans protect their personal information when moving back from overseas. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will help safeguard those who might be susceptible to fraud while also maintaining security at our ports of entry,” Peters said.

“We see personal information leaked and identity theft far too often in today’s digital world. Americans deserve adequate privacy protections from the government tasked with protecting them. Unfortunately, that isn’t happening when our service members move internationally to defend the United States. This bill simply asks the our agencies to take the extra step and remove sensitive personal information from public documents. The United States needs to do a better job keeping its promise to service members and their families,” Waltz said.

“The personal information of our men and women in uniform should be protected at all times,” Crist said. “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will help ensure the personally identifiable information of servicemembers and their families is secure and kept out of the wrong hands.”

Currently, CBP requires manifest sheets, which include PII, in order to disclose and document the cargo of incoming vessels for customs and security purposes. In 1984 the public disclosure of certain manifest information was required. The original intent of this provision was to increase competition, to facilitate better public analysis of import trends, and allow port authorities and transportation companies to more easily identify potential customers and changes in their industries. However, in recent years, PII of relocating individuals has been released enabling identity theft, credit card fraud, and unwanted solicitations.