Bono Mack seeks attention of Chairman Upton on data security

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 The Secure and Fortify Electronic (SAFE) Data Act would establish a national standard for when companies are required to notify consumers that their personal information has been breached.

Ken Johnson, a spokesman for Bono Mack, said she is considering adding a requirement to the bill that companies must notify consumers if their email is hacked.

The measure passed Bono Mack's commerce subcommittee in July over Democratic objections that it does not do enough to protect consumer privacy. The bill focuses primarily on financial information that could be used to commit fraud.

Bono Mack made the comments after a subcommittee hearing on online privacy issues.

Several lawmakers on the panel called for Congress to pass strong privacy legislation to protect consumers from online tracking and targeted advertising. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) quoted the Third Amendment that prohibits the government from quartering soldiers in private homes. He said the Amendment shows the Founders valued privacy, and they would not have wanted websites to track people's online activities.

In a written statement, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), said the subcommittee has done enough fact-finding, and it is time for action on privacy legislation. "At some point the hearings have to come to end and we need to move ahead. This is our fourth hearing about privacy this year," he said. "I'm among those that are convinced we should enact privacy protections for consumer information."

But Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) worried that government regulation would only hurt innovation and economic growth. She said she preferred to see companies adopt self-regulation guidelines.

Chairman Bono Mack said she is not satisfied with industry efforts at self-regulation, but she worries that the government "tends to overreach whenever it comes to new regulations."

After the hearing, she told reporters congressional pressure could encourage companies to adopt better policies to protect consumers' privacy.

"The backstop of Congress breathing down their neck is always a good incentive," she said.

This post was updated at 3:42 p.m.