Senators Vow New Laws In Wake Of ChoicePoint Debacle

Federal lawmakers have joined the outcry against identity theft, calling for stricter controls on data profilers after ChoicePoint's database was hacked.



Federal lawmakers were quick to jump on the identity theft bandwagon Thursday in calling for stricter controls on data profilers after hackers gained access to over a hundred thousand names in ChoicePoint's database.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), for instance, sent a letter Thursday to the head of Westlaw, a data-mining firm based in Minnesota, asking that the company suspend its Web-based "People-Find" feature.

"Westlaw's 'People-Find' service might as well be the first chapter of 'Identity Theft for Dummies,'" Schumer wrote to Peter Warwick, the president of Westlaw. "Criminals no longer need forage through dumpsters for discarded bills - they just need to send Westlaw a check and they're in the identity theft business. Any Westlaw user who pays for your 'People-Find' database can obtain the social security number of virtually any person in the United States."

Schumer promised to introduce legislation to stop companies from selling Social Security numbers over the Internet.

Another Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), also swore to push identity theft prevention bills in the current session of Congress.

One of the three she has proposed would extend the current California state law to all states. That California law requires companies to publicly disclose any security breach, and was the genesis of ChoicePoint's notification to customers that their records had been compromised.

Another bill she's introduced would prohibit the sale or display of Social Security numbers to the general public without individuals' knowledge and consent.

"Identity theft is a vast and growing crime. The only way to fix the situation is with Federal legislation because we need an even playing field in every state," she said in a statement.

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