Illinois PIRG Supports Attorney General Madigan’s New Data Security Bill

Media Contacts
Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

Statement of Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr

Illinois PIRG

“The number, scale and scope of data breaches over the past year is alarming. The protections in place for consumers are insufficient and the response from companies collecting and storing our personal information has been unacceptable. That is why we are endorsing this much needed legislation today.

“It is impossible for consumers to participate in the modern economy without vast amounts of their personal information being collected, stored, transferred and sold. The unacceptably large number of data breaches affecting hundreds of millions of consumers in recent years provides overwhelming evidence that increased consumer protections are necessary.

“The recent Anthem Data Breach is case in point. The Anthem hackers reportedly obtained a mother lode of information on up to 80 million consumers all at once — including employers, birth dates, social security numbers, medical account numbers, phone numbers, and home and email addresses. These data points could be used to commit a variety of more serious frauds, including obtaining your tax refund, obtaining medical care in your name or committing financial identity theft, when new accounts are opened in your name by the thief.

“Beyond inadequate protections to prevent breaches in the first place, when they do occur, companies are often too slow to inform affected consumers and the general public or offer insufficient or misleading solutions – such as expensive credit monitoring services that do nothing to protect consumers from fraud on existing accounts, and do nothing to prevent identity theft, only alert consumers once it happens.

“This is why we are so excited to join Attorney General Madigan, Senator Biss, and Representative Williams in supporting this important piece of legislation which takes common sense steps to prevent more data breaches from happening, and stronger protections for consumers when they do.

“It is critical that we take action at the state level, because Congressional efforts are too weak and serve the interests of data collectors, not consumers. We are also watching Congress closely to make sure it doesn’t override, or preempt, state privacy leadership.

“Finally, if you are interested in learning more information on what to do if you were the victim of the Anthem or other data breaches, we have more information and consumer tips available on our website.

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