Members of a key committee in the House have announced their intention to introduce data security legislation in the near future. In a statement released Wednesday, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, cited the recent Sony Playstation breach in calling for congressional legislation. The subcommittee chaired by Rep. Bono Back will hold a hearing — entitled “The Threat of Data Theft to American Consumers” — on May 4, 2011 on data security issues.
Rep. Bobby Rush, also a member of the subcommittee and who served as chairman during the last Congress, likewise plans to re-introduce a data security bill, which passed in the House in the last session of Congress. Data security legislation, in fact, has been proposed in the last several Congresses, but last year was the first time it passed either chamber. Whether Rep. Bono Mack and Rep. Rush will work together on legislation is not yet clear, but these latest development indicate, at least, that Rep. Bono Mack is inclined to make privacy and data security a part of her agenda as Subcommittee Chair (a role she assumed in January). Rep. Bono Mack has been active on FTC issues in the past, but she was not a key driver on privacy legislation during the 111th Congress.
As our colleague, Gerry Waldron, wrote in a blog post several months ago, if Subcommittee Chair Bono Mack wants to move forward a privacy agenda, she will need to educate new members through hearings to get them comfortable with the substance and hear from stakeholders. The May hearing will be an opportunity to do just that on data security and breach notification issues.