No consensus on how to notify data breach victims
by. Eric Tucker
The data breach at Target (TGT) that exposed millions of credit card numbers has focused attention on the patchwork of state consumer notification laws and renewed a push for a single national standard.
Most states have laws that require retailers to disclose data breaches, but the laws vary wildly. Consumers in one state might learn immediately that their personal information had been exposed, but that might not happen in another state, and notification requirements for businesses depend on where their customers are located. Attorney General Eric Holder has joined the call for a nationwide notification standard, but divisions persist, making a consensus questionable this year.
“We’re stuck with the state-by-state approach unless some compromise gets done at the federal level,” said Peter Swire, a privacy expert at Georgia Tech and a former White House privacy official.
Despite general agreement on the value of a national standard, there are obstacles to a straightforward compromise:
- Consumer groups don’t want to weaken existing protections in states with the strongest laws.