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Calif. League Says It's Studying Potential Privacy Ballot Initiative

SACRAMENTO, Calif.-The California Credit Union League is analyzing a privacy initiative that reportedly is well on the way to qualifying for the March 2004 statewide ballot, a spokesperson for the league told The Credit Union Journal.

John Van Etten, legislative lobbyist for state governmental affairs at the CCUL, said the ballot initiative, which is backed by a coalition of consumer groups known as Californians for Privacy Now, is significantly different from a privacy bill that died June 17 in the state's Assembly Banking and Finance Committee-Senate Bill 1. The California League supported SB 1 because it contained an "opt-out" provision, and would have cost less for credit unions to implement than previously proposed bills.

"Unlike SB 1, this would be an all opt-in measure," said Van Etten. "The government relations committee is analyzing all aspects of the initiative, including politics, policies and potential judicial challenges. It is a very complicated subject. We are pulling information together so the league can decide if it wishes to support the initiative, oppose it or remain neutral."

With the defeat of S.B. 1 last month, consumer groups and other supporters of the legislation have pointed to Californians for Privacy Now's initiative as the next battleground, Van Etten added. The initiative would require financial institutions to obtain a consumer's explicit consent before selling or sharing his or her personal or financial information with affiliates or third-party companies for any purpose other than to complete a transaction initiated by the consumer.

Michael McCauley, a spokesperson for Californians for Privacy Now, said it has passed the 400,000-signature mark. To qualify for the March 2004 ballot, an initiative must have 373,816 verified signatures from registered voters by Aug. 22.

Michael Bartlett

Northwest Airlines Files Suit Against Its CU Over Name, Logo

MINNEAPOLIS-Northwest Airlines, which is moving to evict NWA FCU from its premises, has sued the credit union in federal court to stop it from using the airline's name and trademarks. The unprecedented suit asks the court to order the state's largest credit union to cease using the NWA name and logo within 10 days unless the $1.3-billion CU agrees to some kind of payment. The suit is the latest in a nasty turn of events between the credit union and its financially ailing 65-year corporate sponsor. In April, the airline, which lost $1.6 billion last year, asked the CU to pay $6 million in fair market leases and trademark fees for use of the airline's name and logo, and for rent on seven offices and 23 ATMs on company property. Northwest has already canceled CU offices in St. Paul and Chisholm, Minn., Detroit and San Francisco, effective next March.

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