US Senate to consider Data-Breach Bill

Just before the 2005 Thanksgiving holiday the Senate Judiciary Panel approved a Personal Data Privacy and Security Act, authored by Specter and Leahy. The soon-to-be-called “Specter-Leahy Act”, also known as the SLA, has some exceptionally vague language even compared to laws (already in effect) at the state level:

  • Giving individuals access to, and the opportunity to correct, any personal information held by data brokers;
  • Requiring entities that maintain personal data to establish internal policies that protect such data and vet third-parties they hire to process that data;
  • Requiring entities that maintain personal data to give notice to individuals and law enforcement when they experience a breach involving sensitive personal data;
  • In my experience the use of the word “reasonable” in California’s AB1950 law has been remarkably useful in discussions about how to comply. Unfortunately, I do not see anything comparable here that would help clarify when law enforcement should be contacted or how to measure the internal policies for effectiveness (it is easier to draw a line for “reasonable encryption”, for example, than “protective policies”). Enforcement, on the other hand, seems to be very precise:

  • Section 103 makes it a crime for a person who knows of a security breach requiring notice to individuals under Title IV of this Act to intentionally and willfully conceal the fact of, or information related to, that security breach. Punishment is either a fine under Title 18, or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.
  • Any person who, during and in relation to a felony violation of the computer fraud law, knowingly obtains, accesses or transmits a means of identification of another person without lawful authority, may be imprisoned for up to 2 years in addition to the punishment provided for such felony.
  • Rumor had it that a Representative from Oklahoma was lobbying to delay consideration of the bill by talking turkey, which caused some to suggest that Cole might stop the SLA from being passed. Ha, just kidding.

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