News

Attorney General seeks national standard to protect against ID theft

Attorney General seeks national standard to protect against ID theft

TARGETED:Data thefts at Target and luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group LLC have rekindled enthusiasm in Congress for a single federal law on how customers should be notified about such breaches. But those efforts face the same roadblock as in the past: dozens of overlapping state laws are already in place. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attorney General Eric Holder, citing the recent massive data theft at retailer Target Corp, urged Congress on Monday to enact a national standard for notifying consumers about such breaches.

“This would empower the American people to protect themselves if they are at risk of identity theft,” Holder said in a statement urging congressional action. “It would enable law enforcement to better investigate these crimes – and hold compromised entities accountable when they fail to keep sensitive information safe.”

Data thefts at Target and luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group LLC have rekindled enthusiasm in Congress for a single federal law on how customers should be notified about such breaches. But those efforts face the same roadblock as in the past: dozens of overlapping state laws are already in place.

Federal laws regulate how specific industries, such as banks and hospitals, handle compromised data security, but other kinds of companies, including retailers, face no such uniform standard.

Instead, 46 states and the District of Columbia have passed their own laws that tell companies when and how consumers have to be alerted to data breaches and what qualifies as a breach. Negotiations over fitting state standards under an umbrella federal law therefore face a tug of war among companies, consumer advocates and state authorities.

The National Retail Federation in a January letter to Congress restated its decade-old position in favor of a nationwide standard that would pre-empt state rules.

But some state attorneys general worry that federal standards would dilute their power to pursue violators.

Saying that data breaches “are becoming all too common,” Holder said Justice Department officials were working closely with the FBI and prosecutors to combat cyber criminals.

“It’s time for leaders in Washington to provide the tools we need to do even more,” he added, urging Congress “to create a strong, national standard for quickly alerting consumers whose information may be compromised.”

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Additional reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment, Sports

Ronda Rousey biopic in the works

rrousey

Paramount executives have picked up the rights to the 28-year-old's autobiography.

in Sports

Daily fantasy sports land in gambling industry crosshairs

yahoofantasy

Each year millions of Americans draft virtual sports teams online and enter real-money competitions that last only a few hours.

in Sports

Bat boy, 9, dies after hit in head by swing at baseball game

17-overlay2

The boy was struck by a follow-through swing near the on-deck circle.

in Sports

SEC spares no expense in hiring 14 new coordinators

muschamp

Coaches around the Southeastern Conference have had to do a little extra homework on opposing coordinators during the offseason.

in Lifestyle, Weird

‘Star Trek’ style elevators coming to a house near you

16-overlay

A futuristic elevator that fits neatly into the corner of a room and moves between floors of a standard home could present a more attractive proposition than the traditional stairlift.