Tighter regulation of data broker industry proposed

A bill that would increase federal oversight of information brokers was introduced in Congress Wednesday.

Proposed by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the bill would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to pass regulations that give consumers more control over their personal data, including the right to find out what files data brokers keep on them.

The bill also would require the FTC to set standards that data brokers must follow in keeping consumer data private.

The proposed legislation comes in the wake of several huge security breaches in which individuals' personal data was leaked. Last month, large data broker ChoicePoint revealed that thieves fraudulently gained access to its databases, compromising the personal data of tens of thousands of consumers.

Another incident involved Bank of America, which lost some computer tapes containing federal government charge card account information. This week, reports surfaced that intruders had accessed personal data of 32,000 Americans in a database owned by information broker LexisNexis.

"Here we have another 32,000 U.S. citizens who could be victims of identity theft," Nelson told the Senate. "Under present law, there's no protection. Something's got to be done or none of us will have any privacy. What's it going to take to spur Congress into action?"

A Senate banking committee was scheduled to meet Thursday to address the issue of identity theft.

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