Sunday, November 13, 2005

Congress Tries to Silence Identity Theft Initiatives

After reading an article by Robert Vamosi at CNet, I'm fighting mad!

"Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-Florida) is pushing through changes to HR 4127, the Data Accountability and Trust Act (DATA). Stearns's press release states, "This bill will help ensure that personal data are accounted for, secured, and actively protected against breaches by empowering consumers and businesses to promote the notion that security sells."

Although, this sounds good, in reality, it is deceptive because HR 4127 effectively silences a lot of the forward progress started with a ground breaking law passed in California, SB 1386.

California's SB 1386 set the standard forcing companies to make their customer's aware when their data had been breached. This inspired a national version S 1789, "sponsored by senators Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Patrick Leahy (D-Virginia), and Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), S 1789 would set a national standard and effectively punishes corporations that fail to comply.

Unfortunately S 1789, seems to be going nowhere soon and we now face a real danger that HR 4127 will preempt it.

HR 4127 has dangerous consequences for consumers. Here are the two most glaring items:

The company, who has incurred the data breach would decide if the customers needed to be notified because their was a significant risk of identity theft (with some minor exceptions).

Congressman Stearns has also put in the law that you will be unable to sue a company that leaks your information. Recently, he introduced legislation, which was made into law, banning lawsuits against firearm manufacturers.

Mr. Vamosi states the very reason data breaches are important to communicate to individual compromised, "they're an important insight into the unregulated data warehouse industry, where your purchases at Wal-Mart, combined with your driving history and online newsgroup postings, could someday determine whether you get a job or get that promotion you've long deserved."

Let's face it, SB 1386 has done a lot of good and exposed numerous security flaws in the world of big business. Laws should be made to protect the people versus protecting "big business" at the people's expense. The corporations/politicians supporting HR 4127 need to take a look at how "data breaches" occur and take action to prevent them. Should they fail to do do, they should be held accountable.

I would recommend that anyone concerned with this issue write, Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Patrick Leahy (D-Virginia), and Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and urge them to push through S 1789, which is a far better law.

To my friends in the State of Florida, where I have two loved ones residing, let Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-Florida) know how you feel and remember this when you cast your vote.

To write any of these representatives and let them know how you feel, go to:

For the very informative and (inspirational) article by Robert Vamosi, click on the title of this post!

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