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Consumer Confidential: Facebook and Health Net hacks drive home the need for a national privacy law

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

I say enough is enough.

It's time lawmakers recognized that the private-sector custodians of our personal information aren't up to the task of keeping us safe.

It's time that we followed Europe and even China in enacting a national privacy law that lays down clear, unambiguous rules for data collection and storage — and significant consequences for companies that come up short.

David A. Hoffman, a professor of public policy at Duke University, called a national privacy law "critical to help protect Americans."

"Our current patchwork of federal and state laws does not provide robust, harmonized and predictable enforcement of privacy protections for individuals," he told me.

"Instead, our laws primarily put the burden on individuals to find out who has their data."

 

J.W. August is one of those individuals. The San Diego resident told me he's been a Health Net customer "for years and years." He was outraged when he received the company's breach notice the other day.

"It makes me grind my teeth," August, 76, said. "These people have my data and they're just not responsible.

"Why isn't something being done about this?"

That's exactly the right question. It seems like not a week goes by without word of yet another incident in which people's personal info falls into the hands of bad guys or spills onto the internet.

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