On May 7, the CFPB issued a proposed rule that would provide financial institutions an alternative method for delivering annual privacy notices. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and Regulation P require financial institutions to, among other things, provide annual privacy notices to customers—either in writing or electronically with consumer consent. Industry generally has criticized the current annual notice requirement as ineffective and burdensome, with most financial institutions providing the notices by U.S. postal mail. The proposed rule would allow financial institutions, under certain circumstances, to comply with the GLBA annual privacy notice delivery requirements by (i) continuously posting the notice in a clear and conspicuous manner on a page of their websites, without requiring a login or similar steps to access the notice; and (ii) mailing the notices promptly to customers who request them by phone.

Specifically, under the CFPB’s proposal, a financial institution subject to the GLBA privacy notice requirements would be permitted to post annual notices online, provided the institution:

  • Does not share the customer’s nonpublic personal information with nonaffiliated third parties in a manner that triggers GLBA opt-out rights;
  • Does not include on its annual privacy notice a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) § 603(d)(2)(A)(iii) notice regarding the ability to opt out of information sharing with the institution’s affiliates;
  • Does not use its annual privacy notice as the only notice provided to satisfy affiliate marketing opt-out notice requirements under section 624 of FCRA;
  • Has not changed the information included in the privacy notice since the customer received the previous notice;
  • Uses the model form provided in Regulation P; and
  • Inserts a clear and conspicuous statement, at least once per year on a notice or disclosure the institution issues under any other provision of law, announcing that the annual privacy notice is available on the institution’s website, such notice has not changed since the previous notice, and a copy of such notice will be mailed to customers who request it by calling a toll-free telephone number.

The CFPB cites the following benefits of the proposed rule:

  • Provides consumers with constant access to privacy policies;
  • Incentivizes financial institutions to limit their data sharing with unaffiliated third parties;
  • Allows consumers who are concerned about their personal information to comparison shop before deciding which financial institution to use; and
  • Reduces the cost for companies to provide annual privacy notices.

The proposed rule would provide some relief to industry, particularly where broader bipartisan legislative solutions have failed to gain substantial traction. Last year, the House passed legislation that would fully exempt a financial institution from the annual notice requirement if it (i) provides nonpublic personal information only in accordance with specified requirements, and (ii) has not changed its policies and practices with regard to disclosing nonpublic personal information from its most recent disclosure. A similar Senate bill introduced early last year has not moved forward, though its sponsor, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), pressed the CFPB director about the issue during a hearing last fall.

The CFPB’s proposal will remain open for comment for 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register.