FISMA amendment could redefine personally identifiable info

Federal Agency Data Breach Protection Act

A new Senate bill could redefine how agencies report and handle breaches of sensitive information.

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) introduced the Federal Agency Data Breach Protection Act June 7. An amendment to the Federal Information Security Management Act, the bill would give more policy-defining power to the Office of Management and Budget and broaden the definition of personally identifiable information.

Coleman’s bill is a companion bill to Rep. Tom Davis’ (R-Va.) amendment, introduced in early May.

Coleman wants OMB to establish specific policies, procedures and standards for agencies to follow in the event of a data breach. Also, the bill would broaden the powers of agency chief information and chief human capital officers to enforce compliance and assess damage to federal personal property, respectively.

The bill also would broaden the definition of personally identifiable information to include education; criminal, medical and employment history; and financial transactions. Sensitive information would also include name, Social Security number, birth date and place, mother’s maiden name, biometric records and “any other personal information that is linked or linkable to the individual,” according to the bill.

FISMA defines the information security requirements of government entities. It requires agencies to develop  risk-based information technology security programs, which are graded on an annual basis.

Coleman said he penned the bill as a response to the numerous data breaches at federal agencies such as the Veterans Affairs, Commerce and Agriculture departments, and the Transportation Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service.

“We must ensure that federal agencies are taking the necessary preventative security measures to protect our citizens’ personal information,” said Coleman, in a statement.

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