It was 1933. As the country still reeled from the stock market crash, the bread lines were long and the big banks were in trouble. That's when Congress stepped in, separating the banking, insurance and securities industries for the economy's own good.
Those economic times are gone, and, says Congress, so is the need to play it safe, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick.
"This bill is about people who want the ability to do their banking, their insurance, their securities, their retirement on a competitive basis," said Sen. Phil Gramm, R-TX.
All this could make big business bigger. Consumers stand to gain by doing business in financial supermarkets, but they'll pay a heavy price in personal privacy.
"The bank can take all of your checks, all of your insurance records, all of your brokerage accounts, create a marketing division and sell that information like it was a product without a consumers ability to say no," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.
They cannot, however, trade on your medical records. And the law does give consumers one safeguard on their financial privacy.
"It'll be a bit like the book of the month club; it will be a negative option. You'll have to tell them that you don't want to be in it or else they'll be gathering all this information on you," according to one consumer advocate.
And there will be legal battles over privacy. That's because at the last minute, lawmakers put the individual states in charge of regulating just how much corporate America can know about your personal life.
Copyright 1999 CBS. All rights reserved.
CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff