House Plans Consumer Data Protection Hearing Today

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Spurred by the data breach at ChoicePoint Inc. and subsequent incidents elsewhere, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce is scheduled to hold a hearing this morning on consumer data protection.

The 10 a.m. hearing, titled "Protecting Consumer Data: Policy Issues Raised by ChoicePoint," will be held by the subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer protection.

The October discovery by ChoicePoint, Alpharetta, GA, that identity thieves had posed as legitimate businesses and accessed data on 145,000 consumers was followed by news this month of data thefts at Reed Elsevier's LexisNexis division and Retail Ventures Inc. subsidiary DSW Shoe Warehouse. The breaches sparked a flurry of state and federal bills and calls for congressional hearings.

Today's hearing was called by subcommittee chairman Cliff Stearns, R-FL. Witnesses scheduled to testify include Federal Trade Commission chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, ChoicePoint chairman/CEO Derek Smith and LexisNexis CEO Kurt Sanford. Also slated to appear are Joseph Ansanelli, CEO of data loss prevention firm Vontu Inc., and the executive director of Electronic Privacy Information Center, Marc Rotenberg.

A March 10 hearing on identity theft and consumer data security convened by the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee was adjourned before ChoicePoint and Bank of America testimony could be provided. Bank of America revealed that it lost data tapes containing data on 1.2 million government credit cardholders in late February.

At the hearing, Sens. Jon Corzine, D-NJ, and Charles Schumer, D-NY, both said they plan to introduce identity-theft legislation soon. Majoras supports the prospect of new legislation, especially in the areas of security and notice.

The Senate hearing resumes today at 10 a.m.


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