In a video message released today, Attorney General Eric Holder called on Congress to create a strong, national standard for quickly alerting consumers whose information may be compromised by cyberattacks. This legislation would strengthen the Justice Department's ability to combat crime, ensure individual privacy, and prevent identity theft, while also helping to bring cybercriminals to justice.
The complete text of the Attorney General's weekly address is available below:
"Late last year, Target -- the second-largest discount retailer in the United States -- suffered a massive data breach that may have compromised the personal information of as many as 70 million people, in addition to credit and debit card information of up to 40 million customers. The Department of Justice is currently investigating this breach, in close coordination with the U.S. Secret Service. And we are moving aggressively to respond to hacking, cyberattacks, and other crimes that harm American consumers -- and expose personal or financial information to those who would take advantage of their fellow citizens.
"As we've seen -- especially in recent years -- these crimes are becoming all too common. And they have the potential to impact millions of Americans every year. Just days after the Target breach was made public, another major retailer -- Neiman Marcus -- reported that it also suffered a suspected cyberattack during the holiday season. And although Justice Department officials are working closely with the FBI and prosecutors across the country to bring cyber criminals to justice, it's time for leaders in Washington to provide the tools we need to do even more: by requiring businesses to notify American consumers and law enforcement in the wake of significant data breaches.
"Today, I'm calling on Congress to create a strong, national standard for quickly alerting consumers whose information may be compromised. This would empower the American people to protect themselves if they are at risk of identity theft. It would enable law enforcement to better investigate these crimes -- and hold compromised entities accountable when they fail to keep sensitive information safe. And it would provide reasonable exemptions for harmless breaches, to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on businesses that do act responsibly.
"This legislation would strengthen the Justice Department's ability to combat crime and ensure individual privacy -- while bringing cybercriminals to justice. My colleagues and I are eager to work with Members of Congress to refine and pass this important proposal. And we will never stop working to protect the American people -- using every tool and resource we can bring to bear."