Senators introduce data-security bill

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"Over the past few decades, our society has become increasingly dependent on informational technology, including consumers, government and businesses of all kinds," Carper said in a statement. 

"While we have reaped enormous benefits from this powerful technology and innovation, millions of Americans are at risk for identity theft because of the vulnerability surrounding sensitive personal information.”

Most states already have laws that require companies to take steps to protect private information and to notify consumers when their information is breached. But the requirements vary from state to state and there is no federal standard. 

“This bill will help ensure that businesses and government agencies have consistent, national standards across the board as we work to protect consumers’ personal information and prevent identity theft,” Blunt said. 

The measure is similar to one introduced in the House by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.). The Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee approved her bill last week, and it is currently awaiting a vote from the full Energy and Commerce Committee.

Democrats on the House subcommittee voted against Bono Mack's bill because they said it did not do enough to protect private information such as photographs, videos and library records. Republicans argue the bill should focus on protecting financial information from identity theft.

National data security legislation passed the House in 2009 but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.

This post was updated at 3:43 p.m. to include a comment from Sen. Blunt.