Congress takes small steps on privacy legislation

Monday, 21 July 2003, 10:22 AM EST

While the U.S. Congress focuses on fighting spam e-mail, legislation aimed at protecting consumer privacy online has taken a back seat. The chance of passage of one privacy bill, which would require companies to notify consumers when a database containing private information has been compromised, is in doubt after some in the technology industry opposed the legislation.

Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat, introduced her Notification of Risk to Personal Data Act in late June, but has no cosponsors for the legislation and has drawn the opposition of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA). Feinstein's bill, modeled after a California law that went into effect July 1, would require companies to notify customers when they have a reasonable basis to believe they've been hacked and had customers' unencrypted personal information compromised. Encrypted data is exempted from the reporting requirement.

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