In response to growing concerns about online privacy and data protection, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller today announced a legislative proposal to provide greater safeguards of Hoosiers’ personal and financial information online.
Zoeller’s proposal has three main components aimed at providing stricter requirements for the safe storage of sensitive data, reducing harm to consumers in case of a data breach and increasing transparency of online privacy policies.
So far in 2014, the Indiana Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit has opened 1,310 identity theft-related complaints, including complaints about 375 separate data breaches.
“The amount of sensitive, personal data that is stored online is growing every day, and the risks are obvious as more people are impacted by massive corporate data breaches or individual identity theft that can imperil a consumer’s good name and credit rating,” Zoeller said. “Our existing laws are proving inadequate to address this global crime, and we must sharpen our legal tools and take action to keep Indiana on the forefront of protecting consumers.”
Zoeller was joined today by State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), who plans to sponsor the legislation during the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly.
“Identity theft and data breaches are serious crimes and can have life-altering consequences for victims,” Merritt said. “Consumers should feel confident and secure when purchasing items online. Protecting Hoosiers has always been one of my top priorities, and this legislation is vital.”
The proposed legislation would include the following provisions to tighten Indiana’s laws that govern data collection and guard against identity theft:
Safe data storage: Online operators that store personal or financial data would be required to:
- Store the data securely.
- Delete it and not retain data beyond what is necessary for business purposes/processes.
- Share or sell it only when authorized by law or when consumers are informed in advance.
- Inform consumers by conspicuous notice when data must be collected and how long it will be stored.
Data breach harm reduction: Indiana’s Disclosure of Security Breach Act would be enhanced to facilitate prompt and more informative notification to affected consumers so they can take action to protect themselves in case of a data breach. The proposal would also expand the Act to cover breaches of paper and handwritten records, as current law covers electronically generated records only.
The Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit was created in 2008 to help victims of identity theft, assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of identity theft suspects, and review data breaches that impact Indiana consumers.
In 2014, the Identity Theft Unit helped to return $679,154 to Hoosiers harmed by identity theft or a data breach.
For tips to protect yourself from identity theft, such as signing up for a credit freeze, visit http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2853.htm. To file an identity theft complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 800-382-5516.
SOURCE: Attorney General Greg Zoeller
Comment: Some of the elements sound very promising – such as the requirement for secure data storage, the limitation on data retention, and the expansion of the law to cover paper and handwritten records, but we’ll have to wait to see the text of the actual bill when it is introduced.