WASHINGTON - A consumer-driven privacy bill is one step closer to becoming law in California as it passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee Thursday.

The panel approved Democratic State Sen. Jackie Speier's bill and made only technical changes. The legislation would require financial companies to get customer permission before sharing confidential information with third parties, and would allow data to be shared among affiliates provided that customers had an opportunity to block such transfers.

Industry officials tracking the bill's progress predict that it will undergo significant changes when it reaches the full Assembly. Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and Sen. Speier are reportedly negotiating a compromise after the governor floated his own ideas for a less restrictive bill. A floor vote has not been scheduled yet, but the Assembly is set to adjourn Sept. 14.

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