NATSO, Trade Associations Press for Uniform Data Breach Law

NATSO joined trade associations representing more than a million businesses in telling Congress that any new federal law on data breach notification should apply to all industries that handle consumer data.

“The fact is that hackers do not discriminate as to the type of business they attack,” 10 industry associations said in a Sept. 12 letter to House and Senate leadership of both parties. “Every industry sector – whether consumer-facing or business-to-business – faces data security threats that may put consumer data at risk.

“To protect customers and ensure effective public policy, Congress should ensure that any federal breach notification law applies to all affected sectors and leaves no holes in our system for some industries that criminals can exploit,” the letter said.

Signatories included NATSO, American Hotel & Lodging Association; International Franchise Association; National Association of Convenience Stores; National Association of Realtors; National Council of Chain Restaurants; National Grocers Association; National Retail Federation; Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America; and the U.S. Travel Association.

The letter was sent just days after credit reporting agency Equifax announced that it had been the victim of a massive data breach that compromised information ranging from names to Social Security numbers for as many as 143 million individuals. The breach reportedly began in mid-May but wasn’t discovered until July 29. Furthermore, the data security breach wasn’t disclosed for more than a month.

The letter asked for a uniform national law to replace existing state laws, reasonable data security standards, Federal Trade Commission enforcement, and a requirement that all breached entities be obligated to notify consumers when they suffer a breach of sensitive information that creates a risk of identity theft or financial harm.

The four key principles would ensure that any data security legislation advanced in Congress does not unfairly burden businesses or pick regulatory winners and losers among differing business sectors.

The letter noted that the retail sector represents only 4.8 percent of all data breaches compared with 24.3 percent by the financial services industry. More than 80 percent of all breaches take place in industries other than those signing the letter.


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