New bills look to protect against identity theft

On the tails of the recent data theft investigations at the Veterans Administration, a number of lawmakers last week introduced bills focused on bolstering governmental security practices to protect highly sensitive personal information from getting into the wrong hands.

One such bill put forward by Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka from Hawaii echoed others in the Senate and House by saying that he was introducing his measure (S 3506) in direct response to the recent VA data security debacle. Akaka’s bill – which was introduced last week and now sits with the Senate Judiciary committee – sets out to prohibit unauthorized users from removing or using personal information contained within a database belonging to and is in use by the Federal government.

Introduced a day earlier, another House bill (HR 5588) sponsored by Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) is directed at Veterans Affairs and would require the agency’s Secretary to do more to protect sensitive information and to quickly notify veterans if security is breeched. In the case of a breech, the VA would be required to provide veterans with credit reports. The bill now sits with the House Veterans’ Affairs committee for review.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill (S 3514) that would limit the display on the internet of anything but the last 4 digits of social security numbers by State and local entities.

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) introduced another House bill (H.R.5582) that would require agencies on the Federal level – as well as individuals that partake in interstate commerce – to disclose instances where personal information has been obtained in an unauthorized fashion in order to warn people about potential identity theft. This bill has been referred Energy and Commerce, Government Reform, and Financial Services committees.