MOAA-Backed Bill to Protect Military Families Clears Congress

MOAA-Backed Bill to Protect Military Families Clears Congress
Photo by Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios/Air Force

Updated Feb. 1 with Senate passage.


MOAA-supported legislation protecting the personal data of tens of thousands of military members and their dependents returning to the U.S. from overseas will head to the president's desk for signature after clearing both chambers of Congress. 


The House passed the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 1568) on Jan. 18; the Senate followed suit Jan. 31 via unanimous consent. The no-cost, straightforward legislation, sponsored by Reps. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) and Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.), requires U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to remove personally identifiable information (such as Social Security and passport numbers) from cargo manifests before public disclosure.


The potential data threat came thanks to an unintended consequence of a 40-year-old law. In 1984, an amendment to the Tariff Act of 1930 required CBP to collect manifest sheets to disclose and document the cargo of incoming vessels for customs and security purposes. This was intended to increase competition, facilitate enhanced analysis of import trends, and allow port authorities and transportation companies to track changes in their industries.


These manifest sheets also contain the personal data of individuals moving with household goods internationally … and CBP is required to make these vessel manifests available to data brokers who then package and resell the data.



Those returning from overseas moves can fill out a set of forms to avoid this disclosure, but on average, the forms take two months to process. The Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act will require CBP to remove this information from international household goods manifests prior to their public release.


Active duty servicemembers are 22% more likely than civilians to report their information has been stolen and used to set up a new credit card or other account, according to a report from the Federal Trade Commission. With bad actors lurking around every corner, the new law will ensure servicemembers and their families do not have to worry about the federal government contributing to an increased likelihood of identity theft. 


[RELATED: More Work From MOAA to Protect Servicemembers]


The Senate had passed a version of the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act (S. 758) through unanimous consent in March 2023, but because the bill amends the Tariff Act of 1930, a revenue statute, it must originate in the House. Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Roger Marshall (R-Miss.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) led the effort to fast-track the House legislation through the Senate. 


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About the Author

Jen Goodale
Jen Goodale

Goodale is MOAA's Director of Government Relations for Military Family and Survivor Policy.