TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: 40 U.S. Senators Offer BiPartisan Data Breach Bill

40 U.S. Senators Offer BiPartisan Data Breach Bill

Lisa Minter (
Wed, 22 Jun 2005 15:25:13 -0500

Business leaders who fail to tell consumers when they may be at risk
of identity theft could face jail under a bipartisan bill expected to
be introduced in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and Sen. Patrick
Leahy, the committee's top Democrat, would also restrict a
freewheeling trade in Social Security numbers that are prized by
identity thieves.

The bill, the first to draw Republican sponsorship, comes on the heels
of the largest security breach announced to date after an outsider
gained access to 40 million credit-card accounts held by CardSystems
Solutions Inc., a payment processor.

Dozens of similar breaches have been disclosed this year after a
California state law required businesses to make such incidents

Businesses and consumers have urged the Republican-controlled Congress
to pass a national version of the California notification law.

Specter and Leahy's bill would require businesses across the nation to
make data-security breaches public. Those that do not could face
criminal prosecution.

According to a summary obtained by Reuters, their bill also would
sharply limit the trade in Social Security numbers that can be used in
identity theft.

Businesses would not be able to require consumers to reveal their
Social Security numbers in return for goods or services, and they
would be forbidden to buy or sell Social Security numbers without
consumer permission.

Consumers would also be able to access the profiles maintained by
"data brokers" like ChoicePoint Inc. and fix any errors, as they are
currently able to do with credit reports.

Businesses would have to protect consumer accounts from unauthorized
access, and criminal penalties for such activity would be increased.

At least three Senate Democrats have introduced data-security bills,
but business groups have been quietly lobbying against them out of
concerns the regulations would be too strict.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are preparing efforts of
their own. Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton (news, bio, voting
record), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is
working on a bill that would also limit the trade in Social Security
numbers. Florida Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns (news, bio, voting
record), who chairs a consumer-protection subcommittee, is drafting a
bill that would include incentives for businesses to improve their

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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