The ongoing battle over privacy has seen threats and fronts arise as citizens and legislators parry over

Chris Larsen may seem like an unlikely privacy advocate. But then, as the CEO of online lending firm E-Loan, Larsen has seen the murky underworld of personal data collection. As a player in a business that thrives on information, Larsen knows how easy it would be to use a consumer’s credit score to manipulate the auto insurance rate the person pays or to track a consumer’s buying trends to concoct a risk profile that could be used to justify a less-favorable mortgage rate.

“Profiling is fast getting to the point where it crosses the line of efficiency in business to the dark side,” says Larsen. “We’re going to see a technology train wreck unless we can get it under control.”

Larsen has a proposal would require financial institutions to get explicit consent from consumers before selling or sharing their personal information with another company or even a sister subsidiary. Since May, Larsen, Speier, and a coalition of consumer groups, privacy advocates, and senior citizens have collected in excess of 400,000 signatures — more than the 373,000 required to put the measure on next year’s ballot.


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