WASHINGTON — Congressional privacy hawks on Thursday blasted a provision in a catchall spending bill that under many circumstances would ban the sale of Social Security numbers.

The Amy Boyer provision, named after a woman killed by a stalker who purchased her Social Security number over the Internet, would exempt many businesses, including banks, that wish to share the numbers with affiliates or sell them to other companies.

Accusing business interests of “hijacking” the bill, Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said this provision would roll back privacy protections.

“Sadly, the … exceptions are so broad that they would actually validate the sale and trade of Social Security numbers beyond that which is codified in current law,” Sen. Shelby said at a news conference Thursday. “Social Security numbers were never meant to be commodities to be bought and sold. And, while I understand that it may be cheaper and easier for businesses to rely on Social Security numbers for their purposes, they have no right or entitlement to this information.”

President Clinton has said he would veto the bill if passed, in part because of the Amy Boyer provision.

Banking industry representatives, however, were generally favorable toward the provision.

“This is a difficult but important issue, but I think this is a reasonable compromise that provides public protections,” said Robert R. Davis, managing director of government relations for America’s Community Bankers.

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