Leahy, for third time, submits federal data security law

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For the third time, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has introduced a federal data security bill.

The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act, introduced Wednesday, will require, among other things, that breached companies must notify affected individuals, according to a statement from Leahy's office. Right now, breach alert mandates are handled at the state level, where 45 states have passed similar laws.

The legislation also would increase penalties for identity thieves and entities that try to cover up breaches; provide individuals access to personal information held by data brokers; require companies maintaining personal data to establish security policies; and propel government to create security rules when dealing with data brokers.

The law cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2006 and 2007, but it has never gone to the Senate floor for a vote. Lawmakers, in future sessions, often reintroduce bills that did not come up for debate.

Leahy decided to reintroduce the bill in light of a Government Accountability Office report released this week that found that nearly all 24 federal agencies had information security weaknesses. He said passing the law is one of his main priorities as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

"This is a comprehensive bill that not only deals with the need to provide Americans with notice when they have been victims of a data breach, but that also deals with the underlying problem of lax security and lack of accountability to help prevent data breaches from occurring in the first place," he said.
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