The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, chaired by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), today held a legislative hearing on the discussion draft of the Secure and Fortify Data Act (SAFE Data Act), which establishes uniform national standards for data security and data breach notification.
Chairman Bono Mack introduced this legislation in the aftermath of several high-profile data breaches at companies including Sony, Epsilon, and Citigroup. These recent cyber attacks have compromised the personal information of millions of Americans, underscoring the need for greater online protections.
"The Federal Trade Commission estimates that nearly nine million Americans fall victim to identity theft every year, costing consumers and businesses billions of dollars annually. And the problem is only getting worse as these online attacks increase in frequency, sophistication and boldness," said Chairman Bono Mack. " E-commerce is a vital and growing part of our economy. We should take steps to embrace and protect it -- and that starts with robust cyber security. Most importantly, consumers have a right to know when their personal information has been compromised, and companies and organizations have an overriding responsibility to promptly alert them."
The SAFE Data Act takes the necessary steps toward ensuring American consumers are appropriately protected from data theft. The draft bill would establish uniform national data breach notification standards and enhance the authority of the Federal Trade Commission to penalize companies that fail to respond to a breach in a timely and responsible manner.
FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez reiterated the Commission's unanimous support for a federal data breach law at today's hearing. "Companies' implementation of reasonable security is important for protecting consumers' data from identify theft and other harms. And if a breach occurs, prompt notification to consumers in appropriate circumstances can mitigate any such harm," said Ramirez.
Members on both sides of the aisle stressed an urgent need for stronger standards to safeguard Americans online. Chairman Bono Mack voiced her commitment to working with her colleagues to advance a strong data security bill through Congress.