The US House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill [S 716, material] on Friday that exempts senior government officials from having to report their financial information online. The bill amends the Stop Insider Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act) [S 2030, PDF] to remove many senior government officials from the reporting requirements on the grounds that the posting of financial information could be a national security risk [The Hill report]. The reporting requirements still apply to the President, Vice President, members of Congress and congressional candidates. The bill, which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, now goes to President Barack Obama [official profile].
The STOCK Act has been the subject of legal controversy since it was signed into law in April 2012 [JURIST report]. In September a judge for the US District Court for the District of Maryland [official website] blocked the enactment of the STOCK Act [JURIST report], ruling that it violated government officials' right to privacy. The challenge to the act was filed in August [JURIST report] on behalf of the senior federal executives and various professional organizations by the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation's Capitol (ACLU) [advocacy website]. The complaint notes that the financial information at issue is "precisely the information that foreign intelligence services and other adversaries spend billions of dollars every years to uncover" and that the "complete personal financial information of all senior officials on the Internet would be a jackpot for enemies of the United States intent on finding security vulnerabilities they can exploit." The legislation was originally introduced by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter [official website] in 2006.