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

9 hours ago in Music

Lady Antebellum to host televised ACM Honors show

ladyantebellum839354649795

Grammy-winning country group Lady Antebellum will host the 10th annual ACM Honors show, which will be televised for the first time.

10 hours ago in Entertainment

Judge rules Bill Cosby must stand trial on sexual assault charges

15-overlay-11

A Pennsylvania judge ordered entertainer Bill Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges over allegations that he drugged and assaulted a woman in 2004.

11 hours ago in Entertainment

Video gaming returns to TV with new league

gamingREUTERS

Competitive video gaming returns to TV with the launch of a 10-week gaming league that will be broadcast on TBS.