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Posted on 07.05.2011

Data Breach Prevalence Raises Concerns

As the saying now goes, “another day, another data breach.” The news of breaches involving personal health information (PHI) and other personal data by organizations from Citigroup to gaming companies like Sony and Sega is staggering.  Beyond the news reports, the anecdotal evidence I’ve observed recently from friends reporting, “I’ve been hacked!” speaks to the prevalence of online security problems. While the federal government has established breach notification regulations through HIPAA-HITECH related to the unauthorized release of PHI, legislation has just recently been proposed to put in place federal data breach regulation outside of healthcare. Eweek reports there are three privacy and security bills currently under consideration by Congress. While broad support exists for national data security legislation, certain provisions of the proposed bills are the subject of debate; particularly “do not track” privacy bills that would make it possible to block companies from tracking our activity on the Internet. There are valid arguments on both sides of the issue. Web companies like Google and Facebook advocate for self-regulation, saying onerous new regulations would hurt business. The FTC has warned, however that it would like to see companies “work a lot faster in making consumer choice a lot easier.” Many consumers, in contrast (including myself), would prefer to see Congress err on the side of providing greater protection to individuals to prevent our information from being used unless we give permission. At Lovell, we’re watching this debate unfold with great personal and professional interest.  Have you been personally affected by a data breach?  What’s your opinion on “do not track” proposals?

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