Senate Judiciary Committee Makes Progress On Leahy-Authored Data Privacy And Cybersecurity Bill

WASHINGTON (Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011) – The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday adopted a trio of amendments to a bill authored by Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that will enhance data privacy and cybersecurity protections for Americans’ personal information.  The Committee is expected to resume consideration of the legislation when it next meets.

“I am pleased the Committee adopted my substitute amendment, as well as other amendments to further improve the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act,” said Leahy.  “We simply cannot afford to wait any longer to enact meaningful data breach legislation.  I am pleased with the Committee’s progress so far, and look forward to advancing this bill with bipartisan support to the full Senate.”

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.

During the Committee debate, a substitute amendment was adopted.  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.

A third amendment adopted Thursday modifies a definition in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act so that violations of a contractual agreement cannot be the sole basis for determining whether access to a computer exceeds authorization in certain instances.

The Committee has also lined up votes on a handful of amendments offered by the Committee’s Ranking Member, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).  The Committee will vote on the amendments at its next meeting.

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