Bay Ridge

Golden goes after cyber criminals

State senator says he’s drafting legislation

January 30, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
State Sen. Marty Golden says the government should be taking steps to protect consumers from hackers. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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Alarmed by the massive data breaches that hit nationwide chains like Target and Home Depot in recent years, in which sensitive personal information on tens of millions of customers was obtained by cyber crooks, state Sen. Marty Golden said he is working with technology experts to develop legislation aimed at protecting consumers.

Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn), chairman of the Select Committee Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, said New York State needs to take strong measures to protect consumers from online piracy and promote safe business practices.

“The news is filled these days with reports about large scale breaches of security and loss of personally identifiable information to hackers. The result is that people lose money, property, and security,” Golden said. “What may not be known, since only the breaches get reported, is that there are thousands of ongoing daily attacks on public and private websites as well as Internet services. The threat is ongoing.”

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The legislation currently being drafted would seek to ensure that providers are taking all of the necessary steps to protect the confidentiality of the information they handle and to educate consumers about online privacy and Internet safety, Golden said.

The senator did not specify when his bill would be ready to introduce. An aide to Golden said the bill shoud be ready within the next few weeks.

Golden said he also wants to rewrite the state’s privacy laws to make penalties equal to the damages inflicted.

One portion of the legislation would create a New York State Office of Online Privacy and Internet Safety that would report directly to the governor.

Among its duties: the office would work to ensure that consumers receive timely information about security breaches, work with the attorney general to coordinate state responses when there are breaches and provide education and training to individuals and businesses.

In recent years, news of high-profile companies having their Internet security breached by hackers has alarmed consumers and has led to calls for action.

During the holiday shopping season of 2013, Target was hit with a security breach that compromised the personal information of tens of millions of customers. 

The hackers got their hands on customers’ names, email addresses, credit and debit card numbers and other sensitive information that could leave the consumers vulnerable to identity theft.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called the breach “deeply troubling” and demanded that Target offer free fraud protection services to the affected customers. “Consumers in New York and around the country expect and deserve companies that protect their personal information when they shop on their websites and in their stores,” he said in a statement issued shortly after the Target debacle.

In early 2014, Home Depot was hit with a similar security breach.

Golden said his legislation would also seek to make significant changes in state law to protect the privacy of employees, students, and tenants. The bill would prohibit employers, academic institutions and landlords from requiring access to social media and email accounts.

In a trend in recent years that many job applicants find disturbing, potential employers often ask during a job interview for the password to the applicant’s Facebook or twitter account in order to examine the person’s social media musings to determine if he or she is right for the job.

In 2012, the ACLU and other groups cited the practice as a gross violation of privacy.

“It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process. People are entitled to their private lives. You’d be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside,” the ACLU said in a statement.

Since 2013, 13 states have outlawed the practice.

 


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