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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


California Assemblymember Dave Jones from Sacramento is responsible for two excellent laws affecting the individual’s sensitive data. One, AB 1168, requires eliminating the full Social Security number of California residents from state records. The second, AB 1298, requires businesses and state agencies holding medical information to notify patients whose data is subject to breach. What didn’t get done was what Jones considered “my highest profile privacy bill, AB 779.” The reason is that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, in favor of the business community over the consumer. See the article in California Progressive Report. The bill would have prohibited the storing of payment verification data taken at the point of purchase in the use of a credit card, improve the way data breaching companies would have to report an incident, and make those responsible for the breach pay some of the costs of credit card replacements and consumer notification. This is landmark consumer legislation that had a large coalition of supporters. The bill passed the State Assembly by a vote of 73-0; passing the State Senate by 30 to 6. If I were Assemblymember Jones, I would have been stunned by the veto. See my Oct. 19 post. So where do we go from here? I would like to see Dave Jones introduce a bill to the California legislature that grants the state’s citizens control over their names and personal data, adding a section that would compensate them when it is sold. I told him this directly in a e-mail, and I look forward to his reply. I had thought some time ago that federal legislation was the answer, but this Congress can’t even agree to agree to pass this kind of law. This was covered in a post back in September. There are now two states that seem serious about controlling the loss to crooks of consumers’ names and private information. They are California and Minnesota, representing 41,624,650 people or just under 14 percent of the population. Business and government could not argue with those figures alone, but what if more states jumped in with similar bills, adding additional population to the mix? I’ll tell you what. The bobbsey twins of data breachers (Bus./Gov.) would realize the public is serious about protecting their sensitive data, and that their state legislatures support them in this issue. It could put in place the foundation for guaranteeing every American the privacy that is their right, and at the same time rejuvenate public confidence in dealing with business and government. If you agree, maybe it’s time for all of us to contact our state legislators and tell we’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore. Too bad we don’t have a Howard Beale around today!

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