House bill would protect consumers from computer hackers

Introduction of 'Personal Data Privacy and Security Act' comes in response to high-profile retail breaches


Feb. 12--WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter has introduced legislation that she said would ensure consumers are quickly notified if their private information has been compromised and would address issues of "lax security and a lack of accountability" by retailers.

The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act responds to concern expressed by shoppers of Target and Neiman Marcus, Shea-Porter's office says.

"This bill addresses the growing need to protect Americans' personal and private information against cyber-attacks," Shea-Porter said. "Protecting consumers' private data and improving America's outdated cyber security laws is essential in today's digital world."

According to Shea-Porter's office, the bill would:

- strengthen punishment for hackers by making computer hacking subject to criminal penalties.

- punish anyone who intentionally conceals the fact that a data breach has occurred when the breach causes economic damage to consumers. It also ensures consumers are notified when they have been victims of a data breach.

- require businesses that collect and store consumers' sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, passport information, or home addresses, to implement safeguards that protect consumers' information from cyber-attacks.

Shea-Porter's office says that currently, there is no federal standard in place that protects consumers' data from cyber-attacks.

In May of 2013, Shea-Porter helped introduce legislation that would prohibit employers from requiring current and prospective employees from disclosing their personal passwords as a condition of either keeping or getting a job. In December, she cosponsored the USA FREEDOM Act, bipartisan legislation that would rein in the dragnet collection of data by government agencies and increase transparency, oversight, and accountability for domestic surveillance.

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