Legal But Inscrutable Policy and Privacy Documents

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Tue Jun 12 18:46:46 UTC 2001

Related to a recent discussion of legalese, this article from the Hartford Courant
(with a Moreover link because the Courant's own links are long and unmanageable):

Households across the country are getting flooded with privacy statements from
banks, insurers, brokers and credit card issuers, with some households getting as many as
30. One estimate puts the number of mailings at 1.6 trillion nationwide.

The notices are required under the federal banking reform laws of 1999, which tore
down the barriers between banks, insurers and brokerages, and must be mailed by July

Lawmakers included the provision requiring the notices because there was concern
that giant financial conglomerates could compromise customer privacy by sharing big
stockpiles of customer information with other companies for marketing.


"Are you going to try to understand it when it's tortured English with double
negatives, triple negatives," said Mark Hochhauser, a Minnesota consultant who helps
companies make their literature understandable for consumers. "People are going to throw up
their hands and say, 'Forget it.' "

Grant Barrett
New York loves you back.

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