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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A pre-emptive strike against government and corporate responsibility
Posted by Jill | 7:04 AM
Now that we know that the records of 26 million American servicepeople, including 2 million on active-duty, and of 1500 Department of Energy nuclear workers have been stolen, the potential for identity theft has not gone unnoticed by Republicans.

So they're taking a break from gay marriage, flag burning, and demonizing Mexicans to make sure that if you identity is stolen because of government or corporate negligence, you will have NO recourse unless you can PROVE you suffered a loss:

Congress is considering pre-empting laws in 17 states that allow anyone to freeze their own credit and instead restricting the privilege to ID theft victims.
The proposed Financial Data Protection Act of 2006, expected to be voted on by the House as soon as next week, comes on the heels of the recent theft of sensitive data for 26 million veterans and active duty military personnel. If it becomes law, vets and military personnel who live in states that permit unrestricted credit freezes would lose that option.

A credit freeze cuts off access to your credit history. Since most banks and merchants insist on seeing a credit report before issuing credit, identity thieves can't open bogus accounts using ill-gotten data. Under the bill, backed by the financial services industry, simply having your data lost or stolen isn't enough. You must file a police report describing a specific instance of it being used to commit a crime.

"It's like telling someone you can't put a deadbolt on your front door until after you've been burglarized," says Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Rep. Steven LaTourette, R.-Ohio, the bill's co-author, says credit freezes must be held in check to keep the financial system from unraveling. "Even the simplest process of buying groceries with your credit or debit card will break down if we allow a patchwork of competing and conflicting state laws," he says. Evan Hendricks, editor of Privacy Times, and other critics counter that the bill abolishes the rights of citizens who live in states that permit anyone to request a credit freeze. "It's a nightmare bill for consumers," Hendricks says.

The bill also would pre-empt laws in 29 states requiring companies, institutions and agencies to notify individuals about security breaches compromising their data. It sets national criteria for data protection and breach disclosures, and puts banking and Treasury officials in charge of compliance.

Aside from the fact that Repblicans are astonishingly responsive when it comes from enacting legislation to inoculate corporations and the government from all responsibility for its own ineptitude, this seems to be a Republican pattern these days -- enact Federal laws that supersede any state laws that provide more protection to citizens than the federal laws do. When did the party of states' rights turn into the party of centralized government?
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