The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America said it has asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection to revoke or modify a number of long-standing rules interpretations regarding safeguards for protection of confidential customer information.
The group, which represents about 850 trade intermediaries, says the rules are too strict and hinder the development of business relationships.
A number of CBP rulings the last decade have interpreted federal code governing customs brokers as precluding brokers from disclosing basic client information to any third party, including affiliated businesses without first obtaining a confidentiality waiver from the importer. The NCBFAA argued in a letter to CBP that there are numerous situations in which the broker is required to share this information with a third party to facilitate the client's transaction. CBP has maintained this position despite the proliferation of data mining services and the fact that other parties in the supply chain are not subject to any restrictions on the disclosure of the same type of basic client information, it said.
The organization has requested CBP adopt a standard that requires brokers to maintain the confidentiality of an importer's "proprietary business information," which is generally defined as information which could harm the importer's competitive position if disclosed.
The NCBFAA also seeks to confirm the confidentiality requirement does not extend to information that would otherwise be publicly available. And it wants to create an exception to the confidentiality requirement that permits a broker to share information with an attorney or insurance company in situations in which the broker is forced to defend itself against a claim from the importer. - Eric Kulisch