In the wake of the massive data breach at Sony Pictures Entertainment and the release of thousands of company employees’ personal information by what the FBI claims are agents of North Korea, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and state Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, are proposing legislation to “provide greater safeguards of Hoosiers’ personal and financial information online.”
It’s a nice thought, but it’s a bit like plugging a hole in a dike with one’s finger — and then watching the town be swept away by a tsunami. Feel-good, but ultimately toothless, legislation won’t do a whole lot to ensure that private information remains private.
Reaction to the Sony hack has morphed from the initial schadenfreude-fueled response to angry email missives sent among Hollywood’s elites to the much more unsettling realization that it’s just another example of the ongoing, day-by-day, minute-by-minute war over information. The fact that this particular battle involves North Korea, Seth Rogen and James Franco just adds a
wrinkle of the bizarre — as if someone were pitching a comedy.
But there’s really nothing funny about it. More than 47,000 Social Security numbers have been leaked as a result of the Sony hack. So, too, has employees’ medical and salary information.
In its most recent Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon said there were more than 63,000 security incidents and more than 1,300 confirmed data breaches in 95 countries in 2013. The assaults to organizations come from within just as much as from the outside.
In a news release, Zoeller’s office said so far in 2014, it has received complaints about 375 data breaches.
The legislation proposed by Zoeller and Merritt has three main aims: “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,” according to the news release.
The release goes on to say online entities that store personal or financial data would be required to — here, the emphasis is ours — store data safely, and this is where the proposed legislation proves to be toothless. Just because you state it doesn’t make it so.
Sure, it sounds good. But throw however many politicians and their good intentions you want to at the problem; that, in and of itself, will do nothing to stem the tide quickly rising around all of us.
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