TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: ID Theft Task Force Urges Tough Penalties

ID Theft Task Force Urges Tough Penalties

Rachelle Younglai, Reuters (
Tue, 24 Apr 2007 16:44:01 -0500

By Rachelle Younglai

A U.S. task force created to curb identity theft urged federal
agencies on Monday to help protect consumers by ceasing unnecessary
use of Social Security numbers.

A plan put forward by the Justice Department and Federal Trade
Commission also recommended that Congress toughen and expand existing
laws to make some identity thieves face a mandatory two-year sentence.

The identity theft prevention task force, chaired by U.S. Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales and FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, was
established last May by the White House. It now includes 17 federal
agencies and departments such as the Homeland Security Department and
the U.S. Postal Service.

The new plan called for measures requiring the private sector to
safeguard personal data and notify consumers when a breach occurs and
for creating a national identity theft law enforcement center for
coordinating police investigations.

Also it recommended legislative changes to help federal prosecutors
charge those who use spyware, which can harvest personal data from a
user's computer.

Strong enforcement is key, Majoras said at a press conference called
to announce the task force's recommendations.

Gonzales, at the center of a controversy over the firing of eight U.S.
attorneys, called identity theft a "personal invasion" before fielding
questions about his leadership.

The Center for Democracy and Technology said the government's new
identity theft plan was a good start but that broader protections are
needed for protection of consumer data and personal information.

The recommendations came as officials try to crack down on criminal
rings that traffic in stolen documents and sell fabricated drivers
licenses, Social Security cards and birth certificates to illegal

The officials did not cite any examples of how government agencies
reveal social security numbers unnecessarily.

Last week, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee approved
legislation that would fine software distributors and advertisers up
to $3 million for downloading spyware without a consumer's consent.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.

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