One provision that remained: Federal workers, lawmakers, the president and other high-level executive branch workers still must report the sale or purchase of securities valued at more than $1,000 within 30 to 45 days, depending on when they receive notice of the transactions.

Previously, more than a year could go by before such transactions were made public.

Bonosaro said her members are relieved. The group withdrew its lawsuit shortly after the president signed the revisions into law.

"It was so worrisome," said Bonosaro. She said she spoke recently with a woman who had had an identity thief file a tax return using her information.

"Her life has been miserable," Bonosaro said. "She said, 'If on top of it my financial information goes online, I'm just going to shoot myself.'"

Keith Curtis, vice president with the American Foreign Service Association, also is pleased.

"This would have been a gold mine for intelligence agencies and potential terrorists and criminals," he said. "It's clear the risks are very considerable and very damaging, and the benefits [of online disclosures] are little to none."

Dr. Joshua Zimmerberg, a researcher and manager at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, joined the lawsuit fighting disclosure. Zimmerberg, who said that he does not speak for the NIH, was elated when he heard changes had been made to the STOCK Act.

"There is a need for transparency. There is a need for society to protect against corruption," he said. "But there is a need for individuals to have their intimate financial details off line."

But it was a setback for transparency advocates.

Lisa Rosenberg, government affairs consultant for the Sunlight Foundation, said the reason lawmakers passed the STOCK Act in the first place was the outcry after a "60 Minutes" report on alleged insider trading by members of Congress.

She said lawmakers used federal workers' concerns of privacy and identity theft to undo the part of the law they disliked the most — the transparency.

"They did not like having their financial transactions readily available to the public, to their constituents, and to the competitors and opponents," she said.

Rosenberg said Congress could have excluded certain positions from online disclosures — federal workers overseas or those in highly sensitive security positions. Instead, lawmakers did away with much of the STOCK Act for everyone covered under it.

Rosenberg said it is unlikely that lawmakers will take up the issue again unless their hand is forced.

"They don't want to do this unless there is some sort of public outcry," she said, "And that will only come if there is another scandal."

eileen.ambrose@baltsun.com

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