Remarks Of Senator Leahy In Advance Of Data Privacy Day

[Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released the following statement today, in advance of Data Privacy Day, which will be celebrated on Saturday, January 28.]


Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),

Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
Commemorating Data Privacy Day
January 24, 2012


On January 28, 2012, privacy advocates, industry leaders and government officials from across our Nation will celebrate Data Privacy Day 2012.  I am pleased to join these stakeholders in calling attention to the need to better secure our privacy and security in cyberspace.

In the Digital Age, our Nation faces the challenge of securing our computer networks from cyber threats and cyber crime, while at the same time, encouraging innovation and protecting Americans’ right to privacy. Even as the Internet and other rapidly advancing technologies spur economic growth and expand opportunity, there is growing uncertainty and unease about how Americans’ sensitive personal information is collected, shared and stored.  Data Privacy Day provides an important reminder about the importance of data privacy. 

After a record year of high profile data breaches in the private sector and throughout government, it is more important than ever that Congress step forward and enact meaningful data privacy legislation.  As the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I continue to work towards that goal. 

Last year, I reintroduced comprehensive data privacy legislation that will better protect Americans’ sensitive personal data and reduce the risk of data security breaches.  The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act would establish a single nationwide standard for data breach notification, and require that companies that have databases with sensitive personal information establish and implement data privacy and security programs.  This bill would also help law enforcement better combat cybercrime by, strengthening and clarifying the penalties for violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and creating a new criminal offense for cyberattacks involving government computers than manage critical infrastructure information. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee favorably reported this bill in September 2011.  The Committee has previously reported similar legislation three times.  I urge the 112th Congress to finally enact this much needed legislation.

In the coming weeks, the Senate is expected to consider comprehensive cybersecurity legislation. Protecting our Nation’s data from breaches is at the very core of a comprehensive strategy for improving cybersecurity.  That is why President Obama included a data breach proposal that closely mirrors the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act in his cybersecurity proposal to Congress.  That is why consumer and privacy advocates, business leaders, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle continue to call for the enactment of data privacy legislation.  And that is why I will continue work to ensure that meaningful data privacy legislation is included in any cybersecurity legislation that the Senate considers this year.

I will also continue the important work that the Judiciary Committee began last year to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), so that our digital privacy laws keep pace with changes in technology.  Updating this law to reflect the realities of our time is essential to keeping us safe from cyber threats. 

Again, I thank and commend the many stakeholders and leaders from across the Nation who are holding events to commemorate Data Privacy Day.  I look forward to working with these stakeholders and with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and in both Chambers, to ensure that the right to privacy is ensured in the Digital Age.

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