Identity theft and fraud

Will new cyber laws make us more secure?

Posted:  Saturday, March 18, 2017 - 8:45am
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As we all have seen, there’s a lot of recent news about cyber events and members of Congress are now trying to untangle the details. It can be a steep learning curve — imagine the U.S. representative or senator who is expected to become an instant expert in the subject.

With so much attention paid to data security at the national level, it’s inevitable that there is an increased interest in the subject at the state level, as well.

During the first half of Maine’s legislative session (which covers two years), members submit a list of proposed bills. This “wish list” appears on the Maine.gov website as the “Preliminary List of Working Titles by Sponsor” (http://legislature.maine.gov/uploads/originals/128th-1st-regular-preliminary-list-of-legislator-bills-s.pdf).

This year, 14 of the proposed titles concern identity theft, privacy, or cyber security. That’s a lot. Three of the titles represent attempts to bring the Maine driver’s license into conformity with the federal Real ID law.

Identity theft is the subject of other titles hoping to protect everyone from students to nursing home patients, with job applicants and those receiving medical care in the mix as well. And overall data security can be seen in titles that request faster notification after a breach and the call to establish a cyber security commission for the state.

Not all of these titles will become bills, but many will. State Senator Bill Diamond’s Real ID bill is making its way through the process. The bill to shorten data breach notification by several days did not make it past the committee vote. And in the next several weeks there will be hearings on the student and employee identity theft bills.

If you have any interest in these proposed new laws — either for or against — please head to Augusta and make your thoughts known.  The public hearing is just that: members of the public may comment on a bill the legislature is considering.  Bill numbers and the committees that will be hearing the discussion can be found on the legislature’s website. And if you can’t get to Augusta, you can listen to the public hearing sessions from your computer!

The good news in all of this is that our federal and state lawmakers are trying their best to grapple with the issues that technology presents. The bad news is that new forms of cyber crime are fast and lawmaking is slow. It’s still up to each of us to be smart about our own cyber security.

Jane Carpenter is the founder of Maine Identity Services, LLC (www.meidhelp.com) which provides data breach and identity theft assistance to individuals, organizations and law enforcement personnel through its books, seminars and police materials.