Commission will be held to the requirements of section 604 of the Act.
B. The Federal Trade Commission Is Not Authorized to Obtain Consumer Reports from Persons Other Than Consumer Reporting Agencies, Except in Response to a Court Order or Pursuant to the Written Instructions of the Consumer Whose File It Seeks.
The Commission argues that it may obtain consumer reports from users of the reports, such as insurance companies, without a court order or written permission from the consumers involved, because section 604 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act applies only to consumer reporting agencies and not to users of the reports. The problem with this approach is that it would allow the Commission, or any other governmental agency, to obtain through indirection material which it may not obtain from consumer reporting agencies unless the requirements of section 604 are met. The right of the consumer to limit governmental access to personal data in consumer reports to those occasions when the Government agency qualifies under section 604 would thus be frustrated. Clearly it was not the intent of Congress to provide this back door approach to obtaining the desired information. The Court finds, therefore, that section 604 of the Act precludes the Commission from obtaining consumer reports from users or persons other than consumer reporting agencies unless it complies with the requirements of section 604 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
C. Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Section 604 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act Do Not Require the Federal Trade Commission to Join the Affected Consumers in Any Action to Obtain a Court Order Pursuant to Section 604(1) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Because the Court has found that the Commission is bound to adhere to the requirements of section 604 of the Act, the Court shall treat its Petition in these proceedings as a request for a court order pursuant to section 604(1) of the Act. Viewing the case in this posture, Respondent contends that the action must be dismissed by the Court for the Commission's failure to join the consumers whose reports are sought, such joinder being required under Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and section 604 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Rule 19(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a person "who is subject to service of process and whose joinder will not deprive the court of jurisdiction over the subject matter" shall be joined as a party if:
"(1) in his absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already parties, or (2) he claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in his absence may (i) as a practical matter impair or impede his ability to protect that interest or (ii) leave any of the persons already parties subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reason of his claimed interest."