Senators introduce data privacy legislation

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Wednesday introduced broad legislation designed to increase protection of consumers' private data.

The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2005 has a wide range of provisions including: increasing criminal penalties for identity theft involving electronic personal data; requiring companies that maintain personal information to protect that data and to notify people of a security breach that compromises their sensitive data.

The legislation also would make it a crime to intentionally conceal a security breach involving personal data, give people the ability to correct personal information held by data brokers, and restrict companies' use of Social Security numbers.

"Reforms are urgently needed to protect Americans' privacy and to secure their personal data," Leahy said, citing the wave of security breaches this year.

Nearly a dozen other bills have been introduced in Congress this year related to consumer privacy. Many in the security industry expect a national security breach notification proposal to become law.

SC Magazine reported in April attempts by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to toughen her proposal to require organizations to notify people of breaches that compromise their personal data.

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