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Peters Bipartisan Bill to Protect Americans’ Privacy Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to help protect Americans’ privacy has been signed into law. The legislation will require U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to remove personally identifiable information (PII), which includes Social Security and passport numbers, from shipping or airline cargo manifests before public disclosure.

“When Americans are moving back from abroad, including our servicemembers, they shouldn’t be worried about identity theft,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan bill will better protect Americans’ sensitive personal information when coming home, while also maintaining safe and secure international travel and trade.”

Currently, CBP requires manifest sheets, which includes PII, in order to disclose and document the cargo of incoming vessels and aircraft 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 as part of these manifests, enabling identity theft, credit card fraud, and unwanted solicitations. Peters and Daines have introduced the “Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act” in the 115th, 116th, and 117th Congresses.