Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Leahy-Authored Data Privacy Bill

WASHINGTON – Legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to enhance data privacy and cybersecurity protections for Americans’ personal information was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee at a business meeting held Thursday.  The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act, which incorporates several cybersercurity proposals put forth by the Obama administration earlier this year, was reported by the Committee for the fourth time in as many Congresses.

The Leahy-authored data privacy bill builds on legislation first introduced – with bipartisan support – in 2005.  For the first time in bill’s long history, the Committee advanced the legislation on a party-line vote.

“During the last several months, I have consulted closely with the Obama administration, industry representatives, privacy and consumer advocates, and Republican Senators to develop a consensus bill that incorporates the administration’s proposals to improve cybersecurity,” said Leahy, who is a longtime leader in the protection of Americans’ data privacy.  “In the past, these efforts have always garnered strong bipartisan support.  It is disappointing that Committee Republicans have decided not to support the important provisions included in this bill, despite my efforts to work with them to incorporate many of their proposals.”

The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act will establish a national standard for data breach notification, and require American businesses that collect and store consumers’ sensitive personal information to establish and implement data privacy and security programs to prevent breaches from occurring.  The bill also includes tough criminal penalties for anyone who would intentionally and willfully conceal the fact that a data breach has occurred. 

The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act also includes provisions to update the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  These provisions were the topic of a September 7 Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Leahy.

The Committee began debate on the legislation last week, adopted a substitute amendment, and debating several amendments on which votes were taken this week.  The text of the amendment is available online, as well as a section-by-section summary.  Also adopted during the Committee debate was a manager’s amendment sponsored by Leahy.  The amendment provides clarification and makes a variety of technical changes to the substitute amendment.  A summary is available online.

Additional amendments were adopted during the Committee’s consideration of the legislation.  The text of these amendments is available on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s website.

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