They're back! Data breach notification bills resurface

After several large breaches -- including the Epsilon, Sony, and Citigroup incidents that left customer financial data exposed -- federal lawmakers are dusting the covers off of an old idea: national data breach notification laws.

Since the inception of the California Data breach Disclosure Law, known as SB 1386, most states have since followed suit -- leaving a mishmash of data breach notification laws across the country. Proponents of a national law contend that a federal data breach disclosure standard would simplify the rules for business -- so they know exactly what events would trigger a mandate for notification.

Also see: The breach goes on: Bono Mack unveils SAFE Data Act

One piece of legislation being introduced, The Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2011 by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) would mandate organizations that possess personal information to put in place "reasonable" security procedures to keep that data secure. Should the organization endure a breach, those affected would have to be notified. Also, in line with what has become standard practice today, organizations would have to supply consumers access to credit reports or credit monitoring services for a period of time.

Also this week, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) released a draft of a bill that also calls for a national notification standard for enterprises that suffer data breaches. Mack's bill would mandate that firms notify the Federal Trade Commission and breach victims within 48 hours of the scope of a breach being assessed. The legislation, in its current form, would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to fine companies that fail to comply.

"E-commerce is a vital and growing part of our economy. We should take steps to embrace and protect it -- and that starts with robust cyber security. Most importantly, consumers have a right to know when their personal information has been compromised, and companies and organizations have an overriding responsibility to promptly alert them," Bono Mack said in a statement.

Also see: Enterprise risk management

Industry security representatives have came out in favor of such federal notification laws, albeit considerably gutted. Leigh Williams, president of The Financial Services Roundtable, said that the roundtable supports "a uniform national standard for breach notification. Given existing state and financial services breach notification requirements, this migration will require both strong pre-emption and reconciliation to existing regulations and definitions of covered data." Williams also stated that their should be exemptions for data rendered unreadable, in breaches in which there is no reasonable risk of harm, and in situations in which financial fraud preventions are in place.

Such legislation, many contend, have their benefits and drawbacks. "Ideally, it would accomplish some worthwhile goals. It would enable those affected to understand their risks, if any, resulting from a breach," says Scott Crawford managing research director at Enterprise Management Associates. "Information that is detailed enough would better inform a more specific, and perhaps more effective, response. It would also provide much more information on security outcomes that we presently lack, in line with "New School" thinking, which would better inform us on how attacks succeed and security strategies fail, and where we could do better," he says.

There's no guarantee, once the bill works through the legislative process, that they'll turn out that way, warns Crawford. "The fear of embarrassment and negative impact on their business have not been the only things holding organizations back from disclosure, powerful as those motivators are," Crawford says. "In some cases, others may be further harmed by too much or too detailed disclosure too soon. Government agencies themselves may ask some organizations to withhold specific information if it could pose a threat to what they deem the national interest," he adds.

And that's one of the biggest levers organizations will pull during any lobbying or debate on and disclosure bill. "That suggests another concern: any resulting legislation would be so full of loopholes that it would effectively be neutered," Crawford says.

George V. Hulme writes about security and technology from his home in Minneapolis. He can be found on Twitter as @georgevhulme.

Read more about compliance in CSOonline's Compliance section.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags data breachSB 1386state data breach lawsThe Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2011SAFE Data ActSecurity LeadershipIT managementsonyregulatory compliancecitigroupsecuritySecurity Leadership | Compliance

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

George V. Hulme

CSO (US)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?