Did you get a new debit card or credit card recently? Maybe you got a notice that your online account had been compromised. A newly proposed Consumer Privacy Protection Act could make those kinds of protections universal.

On April 30, 2015, five democratic senators including Senator Al Franken proposed the new Consumer Privacy Protection Act to strengthen protections against online hackers by requiring large companies to report when private customer information has been compromised.
These protections vary from state to state. The Consumer Privacy Protection Act would create a federal baseline for all protections. Individual states could create more protections, but the law would replace any weaker state laws.

What is the Consumer Privacy Protection Act?

The bill does three main things:

  1. It requires companies to take steps to prevent security breaches;
  2. It establishes a broad definition of private information; and
  3. It requires large companies to give notice to consumers when there has been a privacy breach.
Current consumer protection laws only require notification when a person’s social security number or financial information are taken. Under the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, the definition of “private information” would be broadened to include:
  • social security numbers;
  • financial account information;
  • online usernames and passwords;
  • unique biometric data, including fingerprints;
  • information about a person’s physical and mental health;
  • information about a person’s geolocation; and
  • access to private digital photographs and videos.

The Politics Behind the Consumer Privacy Protection Act

As with anything coming through the federal legislature these days, the question is whether this bill, which consumer protection advocates are praising, will have any chance to become law. The bill’s proponents seem confident. According to Senator Franken,

“Over the past several years, we’ve seen far too many criminal breaches of consumers’ sensitive information, and not enough action to help prevent them from happening. . . . With this legislation, we’re proposing vital measures to protect the online privacy of Americans.  In addition to extending important cybersecurity protections to consumers, I’m pleased that our bill includes key provisions that I pressed for to secure people’s sensitive location data.”

Others remain skeptical. According to Justin Brookman, of the Center for Democracy and Technology:

“They didn’t get a GOP co-sponsor, and that’s not a great sign. Still, having the bill out there is good for dialog on the issue.”

Federal law has not kept up with the pace of technology. Whether through the Consumer Privacy Protection Act or some other means, the federal government needs to update its policies to provide better protection to consumers’ online, private information.

Dani K. Liblang is a Consumer Protection Attorney at The Liblang Law Firm, P.C., in Birmingham, Michigan. She and her staff work to protect consumers against manipulative collections practices and identity thieves. If you or someone you know has been the victim of identity theft, contact The Liblang Law Firm, P.C., for a free consultation.

Dani Liblang

Author Dani Liblang

Dani K. Liblang is a collections harassment defense attorney at The Liblang Law Firm, PC, in Birmingham, Michigan. If you are being harassed by debt collectors, contact The Liblang Law Firm today for a free consultation.

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