Cybersecurity

Republican plots course forward on data breach bill

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) on Wednesday said he will look to push forward a combination of data breach bills later this spring.

"It's definitely on the radar scope," Neugebauer told The Hill. "We have to sit down and determine whether we're going to try to make them two bills or one bill."

The issue is seen as the next likely target for Congressional action on cybersecurity, after President Obama signed significant information-sharing legislation as part of the year-end spending bill.

The House Financial Services Committee in December advanced a bill put forward by Neugebauer that would set nationwide data security standards and require businesses to notify customers following a breach.

A competing bill from the Energy and Commerce Committee has been bogged down by a partisan scuffle over whether the law would preempt existent state data security regulations.

Neugebauer said Wednesday the staffs of both committees have been in discussions over the future of the two bills, with an eye toward combining them into a single bill supported by both committees.

There have been no member-to-member meetings since the holidays, according to Neugebauer, but he intends to push forward with the discussions this spring.

"I'd like to do something on it this spring and see if we can get a feel for what direction we're going to go," he said.

The Financial Services Committee bill has the support of the Financial Services Roundtable, but has faced fierce pushback from retailers, which warn it would be overly burdensome to some smaller businesses while allowing other companies - like third-party vendors and financial institutions - to escape regulation altogether.

The Energy and Commerce Committee bill, put forward by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), has a little more traction among retailers, but has faced criticism from Democrats who say it would do away with stronger consumer protections at the state level.

As high-profile breaches continue to make headlines, data security bills have cluttered both chambers in the past year. In the Senate, there are at least four offerings, including a companion to Neugebauer's Data Security Act. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is also reportedly circulating a discussion draft that appears to have strong support from the retail industry.

Neugebauer hinted at the urgency behind the plethora of data breach legislation, calling it an important issue.

"It's important to the [financial services] industry, it's important to the American people to be assured their data is secured," Neugebauer said.

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