WASHINGTON - A recent proposal by the banking agencies to set information technology and computer security standards could give banks and thrifts a competitive edge, according to regulators trying to draw industry attention to the plan.

Jennifer Dickerson, the director of technology risk management for the Office of Thrift Supervision, said a highly secure computer system could give banks an advantage over technology firms hungry to expand into financial services, and could instill in consumers more confidence that the industry is safeguarding their confidential information.

"As a lot of software firms want to go into the financial business, banks have to be able to differentiate themselves," Ms. Dickerson said. "That will be in the security they can provide. Customers don't want their information sold."

But she and other regulators are concerned that they have not yet received any comment letters, which are due Aug. 25, concerning the proposal. Ms. Dickerson said that the agencies want to be sure the proposal's requirement that managers at each institution be responsible for work by outside vendors does not create a heavy burden for community banks.

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