Six Senate Dems back new data breach bill

Six Senate Dems back new data breach bill
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The cascade of Senate data breach bills continues to rain down.

A cavalcade of privacy-minded Senate Democrats led by Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDemocrats introduce bill to reverse Trump's shift of military money toward wall Republicans give Barr vote of confidence Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe MORE (Vt.) on Thursday will introduce the Consumer Privacy Protection Act.

Like at least three other Senate offerings, the bill would require companies to notify customers following a data breach and set minimum data security requirements.

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Unlike some efforts, Leahy's bill would not supersede stronger state data security requirements, a key sticking point for several Democrats who fear a weak federal standard might lessen consumer protections.

“Companies who benefit financially from our personal information should be obligated to take steps to keep it safe, and to notify us when those protections have failed,” Leahy said in a statement.

Legislators have been seeking a solution to the complex and occasionally overlapping state laws that guide companies' data security standards and data breach notification guidelines.

Businesses are pushing hard for a federal law after a slate of mammoth data breaches at Target, Home Depot, JPMorgan and Anthem, among many others, exposed the unnecessary high costs and difficulties of complying with various state laws.

A series of Democratic senators is backing Leahy’s bill: Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken blasts Susan Collins: She'll let Trump 'get away with anything' Bill Press: Don't forget about Amy Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE (Minn.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyKennedy, Markey neck-and-neck in Massachusetts primary: poll Overnight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development MORE (Mass.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives MORE (Mass.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database On The Money: Coronavirus complicates Fed decision on rates | Schumer wants .5B in emergency virus funding | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on military money for wall Hillicon Valley: Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments | Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing | MORE (Ore.).

Their measure will compete with at least three other Senate proposals that are indistinguishable in some regards.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerCongress eyes killing controversial surveillance program This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms MORE (D-Va.) said he would release his own bill as early as this week.

Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Critics pile on Trump plan to roll back major environmental law | Pick for Interior No. 2 official confirmed | JPMorgan Chase to stop loans for fossil fuel drilling in the Arctic White House effort to roll back bedrock environmental law spurs strong opposition Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way MORE (D-Del.) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntCongress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Booker, Merkley propose federal facial recognition moratorium MORE (R-Mo.) introduced the bipartisan bill of the group two weeks ago.

And Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line MORE (D-Fla.) has been pushing another offering since January. The White House even issued its own legislative proposal on the topic, elements of which were mirrored in Nelson’s bill.

Leahy’s bill is touted as the privacy and consumer advocates’ preferred measure. According to a release, organizations such as the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Consumers Union support the measure.

“All lawmakers who support consumers should support this bill,” Leahy said.

The Consumer Privacy Protection Act specifically delineates what type of information private firms would have to protect: Social Security numbers, financial account data, online login credentials, email addresses, biometric data, medical data, geolocation and photos and videos.

“Today, data security is not just about protecting our identities and our bank accounts; it is about protecting our privacy,” Leahy said. “Americans want to know not just that their bank account and credit cards are safe and secure, they want to know that their emails and their private pictures are protected as well.”

In addition to the notification and security requirements, Leahy’s bill would create civil penalties for companies failing to comply with these standards.

Civil penalties have been a tough sell for Republicans, who worry they would give too much power to zealous federal regulators.