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Bipartisan Cybersecurity Bill Drafted in House

The House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. on March 18 on a bipartisan cybersecurity bill introduced by Democratic and Republican members of the subcommittee.

The “Data Security and Breach Notification Act is billed by the committee as a "comprehensive plan to help safeguard sensitive consumer information and shield Americans from the consequences of cyber attacks."

The draft, authored by parent House Energy & Commerce Committee vice chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), would require entities that collect personal information to secure it and provide notice to individuals if that security is breached.

It would do so by preempting the current "patchwork" of laws with a single, national protection/notification standard.

“As one of the tens of millions of Americans who has been a victim of a data breach I know firsthand the great importance of needing to protect our personal information from identity theft," said Blackburn. "This bill will help enhance the security of sensitive information and provide much needed clarity by creating a national standard and ensure that consumers are notified of a breach without unreasonable delay."

"Until today, Washington has been asleep at the switch while millions of Americans have had their personal information stolen by cyber criminals. Most Americans would be shocked at how inadequate current laws are at safeguarding their sensitive financial information," said Welch. "While this draft bill is far from perfect, it is an important step in the right direction. I will be working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make practical improvements to it as it works its way through the legislative process."

The committee was said to be looking for an FCC witness for the hearing, which would mean a busy couple of days on the hill for that agency. The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled an FCC oversight hearing for the afternoon of March 18 that will feature all five commissioners. Then on March 19, the House Communications Subcommittee is holding its own FCC oversight hearing. Both of those are driven, at least in part, by the FCC's Feb. 26 decision to reclassify ISPs as telecommunications service under Title II regs. 

The bill may have been bipartisan, but some high-profile Dems were not pleased.

"We are disappointed with the draft of the Data Security and Breach Notification Act," said Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), ranking Member of the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee. "Data breaches can create serious harm to consumers and businesses alike, and this bill does not provide solutions.  We have numerous concerns about the weakening of consumer protections overall, as well as the dilution of protections for customers of telecommunications and cable services.  We will continue to work for legislation that provides the strongest possible safeguards and protections for American consumers.”