NCBFAA Gives Nod to Customs Confidentiality Rule with Modifications

Ed Greenberg
Phone: (202) 342-5277
 
For Immediate Release

Washington, DCIn comments filed with U.S. Customs, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA) strongly supported adoption of its proposed confidentiality rule provided that it is substantially broadened. The proposal would authorize NVOCCs and other parties to request that the identity of the US importers and consignees could remain confidential.
        One effect of the 24 Hour Advanced Manifest Rule is that NVOCC house bill of lading data has become subject to disclosure and review by the public for the first time. In its comments, the NCBFAA noted that public disclosure of NVOCC house bill of lading information was an unintended consequence of the 24 Hour Rule and that release of this data raises legitimate concerns about terrorism and theft; similarly the Association noted that giving steamship lines access to this data provides them with additional opportunities to improperly use the information to back-solicit customer accounts.
        The NCBFAA also noted that this rule would mitigate the unanticipated consequences of making this information available for disclosure, but urged Customs to make a number of modifications:

  • Although the proposal would limit the ability to seek confidentiality treatment to AMS certified NVOCCs and carriers, the Association argued that any NVOCC should be able to seek this benefit for their customers’ data.
  • In addition, the Association urged that Customs modify its "masking" program to better protect the data that is properly subject to protection.
  • Also, the Association urged that Customs not require NVOCCs making these confidentiality designations to obtain their authority by a formal power of attorney, as that would raise unnecessary difficulties.

        Moreover, the Association urged that Customs find a way to exempt NVOCC data from the subject-to-the-statutory-disclosure provisions. After all, the NCBFAA argued, the only reason the data is being filed with Customs in the first place is because of the security concerns that Customs is seeking to protect; had Customs elected to use a mechanism other than AMS to acquire pre-shipment information, the non-disclosure aspect of NVOCC data would have remained unaffected. 
        Consequently, the Association is asking Customs to amend its proposal so that the inward manifest data being provided electronically by NVOCCs does not constitute "vessel manifest" information; thus exempting the data from review and disclosure, by non-governmental parties.
        
With headquarters in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA (www.ncbfaa.org) represents nearly 700 member companies - the nation's leading freight forwarders, customs brokers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs) and air cargo agents. Established in 1897 in New York, NCBFAA is the strong, effective national voice of the industry. Through its various committees, counsel and representatives, the Association maintains a close watch over legislative and regulatory issues that affect its members. It keeps them informed of these and other related issues through its weekly Monday Morning eBriefingQuarterly NCBFAA Bulletin, and various meetings and conferences throughout the year.

 

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