Feinstein calls for more laws to prevent identity theft


In the wake of the latest security breach compromising personal data, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined law enforcement, consumer groups and identity theft victims to urge Congress to beef up protection of people's confidential data.

Feinstein held a news conference Tuesday in Southern California after U.C. Berkeley reported that the theft of a laptop containing Social Security numbers and other data of more than 98,000 graduate students, applicants, and others.

"The incident at Berkeley was the latest in a series of recent compromises of Social Security numbers or other personal financial information that could be used by identity thieves and it clearly demonstrates the need for a comprehensive approach to identity theft in order to give Americans more control over their personal information," Feinstein said in a statement.

Other breaches exposing sensitive consumer data this year involved Choice Point and LexisNexis.

Feinstein has introduced three bills that aim to provide more protection of consumers' personal data. The first, an expansion of a California law, would require companies to notify customers in the event of a breach that compromises their personal data. A Congressional committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill April 13.

Her second bill would require companies to ask consumers whether their data can be sold to third parties. The third piece of legislation would ban the sale or display of Social Security numbers to the general public without individuals' consent.

On Tuesday, Feinstein asked a Senate committee to restore funding to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant program, which she is vital to law enforcement's efforts to investigate of identity theft and high-tech crimes.

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