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Californian legislators have backed a bill that tightens up the state's existing laws about the disclosure of security breaches involving consumer data. The California Assembly's judiciary committee voted 6-3 on Tuesday for a bill that would mean firms have to tell consumers if paper records or a back-up tape containing personal information are compromised or lost. Information security breaches are covered by state laws on ID theft that came into effect in January 2003, so the new bill is essentially designed to close a loophole in existing laws.

"Right now, companies have to tell you when a thief hacks into their computer system and gets access to your personal account information or Social Security number, but they don't have to say word one when paper records or a back-up tape containing the exact same personal information are lost, stolen or inadvertently handed to a perfect stranger," Democratic state Sen. Debra Bowen told Reuters.

The bill has already been approved in the Californian state Senate and now passes on to the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. California has the toughest security breach disclosure laws in the US. Personal information privacy laws have became a hot topic in the US in the wake of breaches involving a string of US institutions including data mining firm ChoicePoint and affiliates of MasterCard International. ®

Related stories

MasterCard fingers partner in 40m card security breach
Unauthorised research opened door to MasterCard breach
ID theft is inescapable
Big company, crap security
US bank staff 'sold customer details'
Backup tapes are backdoor for ID thieves
Online fraud, ID theft soars
California disclosure law has national reach

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