Technology

Dems divided on anti-hacking bill

Democrats are split on new legislation to crack down on hackers.

While Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) has joined Republicans with a new bill aiming to protect people after their bank, retailer or favorite website gets hacked, other key members of his party are bucking the move.

{mosads}Those divides burst into the fore during a hearing on the Data Security and Breach Notification Act on Tuesday. Unless they are bridged, the odds are high that Democratic opposition could sink the chances of the legislation, like so many data breach bills before it.

“The bill simply does not strike the right balance,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “We must be careful that a federal law ensures that protections for consumers are not weakened.”

“I believe the bill should be broad where it is now narrow and narrower where it is now broad,” added Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the ranking member of the Commerce subcommittee.

For one, the legislation authored by Welch and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) would preempt state laws, which critics say would undercut strong protections at the state level. It also does not address stolen health or location information and would bar some private lawsuits after data breaches occur.

“This bill does need significant amendments to achieve the goal of both simplifying compliance for business and enhancing protections for consumes,” Schakowsky said.

The new bill wouldn’t be the first anti-hacking legislation to stall in Congress.

Multiple pieces of legislation were introduced during the last session, but all of them failed to reach the finish line

Meanwhile, the number of major hacks has increased, with new data breaches dominating headlines on an almost daily basis.

“We need to pass legislation that is going to deal with this incredible problem,” said Welch.

He seemed committed to bringing some of his Democratic colleagues onboard with the bill, which could help something get through.

“This bill does not do some things that would be controversial, that would be debatable, but it’s not a part of this,” he said, noting that it stays silent on privacy and net neutrality issues.  

“It’s a narrow bill. In my view that’s smart.”

It’s unclear whether his fellow Democrats agree.

“Having some Democratic support does not make a measure bipartisan,” asserted Pallone. 

Tags Data breach data breach notification Data Security and Breach Notification Act Frank Pallone Jan Schakowsky Peter Welch
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