Congressional Legislation

By Anderson, Teresa | Security Management, October 2000 | Go to article overview

Congressional Legislation


Anderson, Teresa, Security Management


Identity theft. At a recent hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information heard testimony on a proposed identity theft bill (S. 2328), introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The proposed legislation would place additional responsibility on consumer reporting agencies, financial institutions, and credit card companies for reporting cases of identity theft and ensuring that consumer records are accurate.

In his prepared comments, Subcommittee Chairman Jon Kyl (R-AZ) noted that, despite legislation making identity theft a crime, reported cases of identity theft are on the rise, with more than 20,000 reports filed since November 1999. According to Kyl, who is a cosponsor of the bill, S. 2328 would help prevent identity theft by requiring that credit card companies verify any change of address requests within 10 days and that consumer credit reporting agencies verify consumer data and post alerts regarding fraud in cases of reported identity theft. The bill would also require such companies to devise a single form for reporting identity fraud, so that victims could fill out one form and supply it to numerous companies. Companies that fail to meet these requirements would face penalties.

While the witnesses representing government entities--such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration--supported the bill, those from the private sector argued that the bill would be too costly to implement. Steven Emmert of Reed Elsevier Inc., a data clearing-house, also argued that inaccuracies in consumer records have never been proven to contribute to identity theft. Furthermore, Emmert contended, businesses have already implemented internal programs to fight identity theft, obviating the need for government intervention.

@ Complete witness testimony is available at Security Management Online.

Workplace monitoring. Two bills (H.R. 4908 and S. 2898), introduced by Rep. Charles Canady (R-FL) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), respectively, would require that employers inform their employees before monitoring e-mail communications or computer usage. Under the bill, employers would be required to notify employees of the communications to he monitored, the method used to conduct the monitoring, the frequency of the monitoring, and how the collected information will be used.

Under the provisions of the bills, which are identical, employers need not give notice of monitoring activities if they have reasonable grounds to believe that an employee is violating the legal rights of the employer or another person. Notification is also waived in investigations into employee actions that could cause significant harm to the employer or another person. In either case, the employer must have reason to believe that the monitoring will provide evidence of such wrongdoing. …

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