(TRENTON) – Citing the rise in consumer online data breaches, Assembly Democrats Jamel Holley and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, through their legislation (A-4976), aim to inform consumers on online privacy and ways to protect their personal information. The bill was approved Thursday by the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee.
The sponsors said the bill was inspired by the numerous tours and panel discussions on cybersecurity and consumer information breaches in relation to homeland security concerns.
“Billions of consumer files are compromised daily through hacking incidents,” said Holley (D-Union), who serves as vice-chair of the Assembly Homeland Security Committee. “The harvesting of personal information from 50 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica in 2014 to cyber thieves stealing consumer’s data from Marriott and T-Mobile are just a few of the nation’s largest, most impactful data breaches within the last decade. These incidents are a wake-up call to all consumers on how vulnerable personal information is online. This legislation would help convey the necessary steps consumers must take to protect themselves and their information when conducting online transactions, whether it’s through simple banking or shopping.”
“The violation of online data privacy is a national epidemic, hurting businesses and discouraging consumers,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), chairwoman of the Assembly Homeland Security Committee. “Consumers have to know how to protect their personal information and what to do in the case that their information is compromised. Protecting one’s personal data, on line or not, should always be a high priority.”
American Consumer Credit Counseling says that 64% of U.S. adults “do not trust” major retailers with their payment cards, and 52% of consumers surveyed say they have already been affected by some form of payment card fraud.
“Data protection is a necessity to create trust, confidence and transparency in the digital age for both the consumer and business community alike,” said Dr. David Weiss, Esq., the founder and director of the Institute for Dispute Resolution (IDR) at the New Jersey City University School of Business.
“Protection of a consumer’s personal information and the right to engage in online activities is just as important, because of the digital age we’re living in, as any other of our individual freedoms. This policy would help to inform the public about the precautions they should take to protect themselves online.”
The bill (A-4976) requires the New Jersey Cybersecurity Communications Cell (NJCCIC) to develop informational materials for use by consumers in the state concerning cybersecurity best practices and awareness.
The informational materials are to include, but not limited to:
1) Best practices for consumers concerning the security and privacy of online consumer data;
2) Methods consumers may use to conceal and protect their data;
3) Common ways that consumer and personal data is stolen;
4) Information relevant to any cybersecurity threat specific to consumers in this state; and
5) A comprehensive list of cybersecurity resources for consumers, including information on how a consumer may report a cybersecurity threat to state or federal authorities and any related contact information.
The bill also required the NJCCIC to provide the information to any New Jersey
consumer upon request and is to be made available to the public through the website.
The NJCCIC is the State’s one-stop shop for cyber security information sharing, threat analysis, and incident reporting. A component organization within the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the NJCCIC works to promote statewide awareness of local cyber threats.