Senator Introduces Online Security Bill – NYTimes.com

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, introduced a new bill Thursday that aims to protect citizens’ personal information from online data breaches. The bill would also punish companies that are careless with customers’ information.

“The goal of the proposed law is essentially to hold accountable the companies and entities that store personal information and personal data and to deter data breaches,” Senator Blumenthal said in a phone interview. ”While looking at past data breaches, I’ve been struck with how many are preventable.”

The new bill, called the Personal Data Protection and Breach Accountability Act of 2011, comes at a time when online privacy and security are hot topics in Congress. The White House has also been involved in discussions around new online privacy rules and legislation.

The bill presented by Senator Blumenthal would introduce regulations for companies that store online data for more than 10,000 people. These rules would require companies to follow specific storage guidelines and ensure that personal information is stored and protected correctly. Companies that do not adhere to these security guidelines could be subject to stiff fines.

Senator Blumenthal was a vociferous critic of Sony’s handling of an attack on its servers earlier this year, which put data from 77 million customers at risk. At the time, the senator pressed Sony to disclose the extent of the damage and to notify customers who had been affected.

If the new bill passes, Senator Blumenthal said, customers would be able to sue companies, like Sony, that do not take adequate precautions.

“The Sony data breach has became a poster child of why we need this law,” he said. “We were working on this legislation well before that data breach occurred, but Sony is a good example of why this law should exist.”

via Senator Introduces Online Security Bill – NYTimes.com.

As much as I applaud the effort, what would be better is if our system realized that despite the damage caused by these break-ins being accidental, OUR SYSTEM STILL HOLDS PEOPLE LIABLE FOR ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE. Get in a car accident? Try saying it wasn’t your intention to hit the pedestrian, and see how far that gets you. Made a product that through an unforeseen flaw killed people? See how far your “it wasn’t on purpose” argument goes to keep you from paying out damages. New laws are not what we need; what we need is a justice system that enforces the ones we have.

However, in lieu of that, I’ll welcome at least the token effort to do something about the egregious mishandling of data that happens all over the place (I might go into more detail, but some of it is frankly too sensitive and still unpatched for me to feel comfortable doing so). The media and the populace loves to blame Anonymous and Lulzsec for putting out personal information, but the fact of the matter is that these kids are not doing anything that anyone with the desire to do so couldn’t do, and that they’re just publishing it rather than selling it for covert use is if anything a tough-love favor to our society as a wake-up call. Sony, Nintendo, and the other affected companies are those to whom anger should be directed at, for being so cavalier in their handling of private data. That they’ve only suffered losses of less than 50% value suggests that people haven’t quite gotten the message yet.

Anyway, I’m glad to see that perhaps some positive legislation may be resulting out of the Anon/LulzSec activity, after all of the naysayers pointing to it as a possible false-flag attack to bring about a locked down Internet. If all justified attacks are to be viewed as false-flags, then the would-be oppressors will not even need to resort to false flags to lock us down, as we will have willingly entered their bonds.

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