Senators introduce bipartisan data breach legislation

Senators introduce bipartisan data breach legislation

Congress is growing cluttered with legislation that would set nationwide data security standards for companies.

Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Democrats push EPA to collect 4K in 'excessive' Pruitt travel expenses | Greens angered over new rules for rocket fuel chemical | Inslee to join youth climate strikers in Las Vegas Democrats push EPA to collect 4K from Pruitt for 'excessive airfare expenses' Overnight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan MORE (D-Del.) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHit singer Andy Grammer says 'unity' more important than any political party Top GOP senator: 'More harassment than oversight' in House Hillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group MORE (R-Mo.) on Thursday introduced the Data Security Act, the Senate’s second major bill on the topic.

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In addition to the minimum data security requirements, the bill would also instruct companies on how to notify customers in the wake of a breach.

“Nearly every day it seems we hear of another data breach that has compromised consumers’ sensitive information,” Carper said in a statement. “Yet despite the increasing frequency and scope of data breaches, there still is no single federal law that provides clear, consistent, and comprehensive protection to American consumers impacted by a data breach.”

The pair has tried to move the bill several times before but gotten nowhere.

But a rash of data breaches at major retailers and banks over the past year has given new life to cyber bills on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers made moving cyber legislation a priority in 2015.  

It has created a glut of offerings.

In January, Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonRepublicans amp up attacks on Tlaib's Holocaust comments The muscle for digital payment Rubio says hackers penetrated Florida elections systems MORE (D-Fla.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, offered his own bill on the subject. It mirrors a White House proposal and contains many similarities to the Carper-Blunt offering.

Nelson told The Hill Wednesday night that he was working with Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill MORE (R-S.D.) to find a way to move his bill, possibly complicating the path forward for the Carper-Blunt effort.

In addition to the Senate bills, the House is also trying to act on two similar measures. It has generated some confusion, as lawmakers jockey over which bill to support.

In a surprising House Energy and Commerce Committee markup Wednesday, all Democrats — including the bill’s co-sponsor — pulled support for an offering from Reps. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity MORE (R-Tenn.) and Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller Bernie Sanders is hypocritical on most significant campaign issues MORE (D-Vt.).

But Welch later insisted his bill was still alive and could hit the floor soon, despite an analogous bill from Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) that would seem to have more Democratic support.

Carper maintains his bill, modeled after federal financial data security requirements, would ensure that “entities handling secure personal and financial information take the steps necessary to protect it and respond swiftly and effectively in the unfortunate event of a breach.”

But more importantly, lawmakers must act on something, he said.

“It’s long past time for Congress to act to implement a national data breach law.”