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    Congressional Research Service: Federal Information Security and Data Breach Notification Laws

    The Congressional Research Service (a nonpartisan department of the Library of Congress created to assist legislators) has published a report concerning the federal government’s information security capabilities and data privacy protections. The report, “Federal Information Security and Data Breach Notification Laws, RL34120 (Jan. 28, 2010)” is available through Open CRS. Not all CRS reports are made public, though the department is funded by taxpayer money. Open CRS, a project of the Center for Democracy & Technology, gathers and archives publicly accessible CRS Reports, ones that are already in the public domain. Here’s the summary:

    The following report describes information security and data breach notification requirements included in the Privacy Act, the Federal Information Security Management Act, Office of Management and Budget Guidance, the Veterans Affairs Information Security Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Also included in this report is a brief summary of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), an industry regulation developed by VISA, MasterCard, and other bank card distributors.

    Information security laws are designed to protect personally identifiable information from compromise, unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized acquisition, unauthorized access, or other situations where unauthorized persons have access or potential access to such information for unauthorized purposes. Data breach notification laws typically require covered entities to implement a breach notification policy, and include requirements for incident reporting and handling and external breach notification. Expectations of many are that efforts to enact data security legislation will continue in 2010.

    In the first session of the 111th Congress the House passed H.R. 2221 (Rush and Stearns), the Data Accountability and Trust Act, which would apply only to businesses engaged in interstate commerce, and require data security programs and notification of breaches to affected consumers. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 139 (Feinstein), the Data Breach Notification Act, which would apply to any agency, or business engaged in interstate commerce; and S. 1490 (Leahy), the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2009, which would apply to business entities engaged in interstate commerce and require data security programs and notification to individuals affected by a security breach. S. 1490 also includes data accuracy requirements for data brokers, and requirements concerning government acccess to and use of commercial data.

    For related reports, see the Current Legislative Issues Web page for “Privacy and Data Security” available at This report will be updated.

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