A bold band of security and privacy experts is calling on President Obama to create a federal clearinghouse of information about data breaches — and make that intelligence accessible to companies, consumers and law enforcement.
The proposal comes in a report titled, The Perfect Storm: Why the New Administration Cannot Ignore Identity Theft, by Adam Levin, Chairman and Co-Founder of Identity Theft 911. Experts cited in the report include Jay Foley, co-founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center, Pam Dixon founder of World Privacy Forum, and Chris Hoofnagle, of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.
At first blush, this comes off as a radical idea, certain to slam into a brick wall of special-interest inertia. However, it does mesh with Obama’s efforts — which are already ramping up – to establish a new age of transparency designed to undergird the public good.
What’s more, with data theft and Internet-enabled financial scams spiraling out of control – and rapidly eroding consumers’ trust in the Internet — this is, in fact, a very rationale notion. It would seem to deserve the same level of discussion that resulted in naming of the Top 25 programming flaws.
“Simply because a small percentage of consumers who are on compromised databases actually suffer a personal incident within a short period of time doesn’t mean that they don’t face continuing risk,” says Levin “Identities are evergreen and real currency.”
Levin suggests designating the Federal Trade Commission as the principal information vehicle and omnibus regulatory authority. He wants to see passage of a national data breach notification and disclosure law “with teeth.” And more funding for the FTC.
Highlights of the report include calls for the Obama administration to:
- Derail efforts by the Big Three credit bureaus to water down state laws that require companies to notifiy consumers when their data gets stolen and allow them to easily freeze their credit records.
- Compel federal agencies to handle sensitive citizens’ data more securely.
- Pool law enforcement crime data “in order to provide a more timely and complete snapshot of the identity theft problem”
“There is no shortage of ideas as to how we may assert greater control over the identity theft pandemic,” the report concludes. “Now it’s up to the new president, as a great listener and mediator, to bring all voices to the table.”