Home > Legislation > Senate Judiciary Moves on Data Security & Privacy

Senate Judiciary Moves on Data Security & Privacy

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved not one, but two pieces of data privacy and security legislation.  This swift, recent movement reminds us that the members of the Senate Judiciary – in particular Chairman Leahy of Vermont – are eager to see a federal data security law passed this session.

The Personal Data Privacy & Security Act of 2009, which was introduced (for the third time) by Senator Leahy in July, contains a number of provisions addressing electronic personal data.  This bill:

  • sets out new requirements for business entities that maintain electronic personal data – particularly in the event of a security breach;
  • establishes a new Office of Identity Protection within the FTC and authorizes the agency to develop standards for a data privacy and security program that would apply to entities dealing in electronic personal information;
  • requires agencies to appoint a Chief Privacy Officer
  • sets out baseline security information standards for the government (yes, I too am amazed that we still lack this on the federal level);
  • enhances criminal penalties for identity theft and for willful concealment of security breaches involving electronic personal data;

and much, much more.

The Data Breach Notification Act, sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein of California, requires that agencies or business entities notify a customer in case of any security breach involving that customer’s personal information.

Both bills pre-empt existing state law.  But they do not pre-empt state enforcement, and allow for civil actions by state Attorneys Generals and local law enforcement.

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