More than 21 million federal employees were affected by a series of massive data breaches, and two legislators want to see them protected from identity theft for the rest of their lives.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) are behind H.R.5765, also known as the RECOVER Act. It would amend the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 and extend identity protection coverage for those affected by data breaches at federal agencies.
Previously, victims were given free credit monitoring and identity protection services for a decade at a cost of $5 million. But Ruppserberger and Norton want victims of the 2015 Office of Personnel Management breach to see those protections extended well beyond their current 2026 deadline, and to cover the remainder of the life of affected individuals.
Data stolen in that breach included the Social Security numbers of federal employees and contractors, both current and former.
“Only lifetime identity protection coverage will give them the complete peace of mind they deserve,” Norton said. “There is no limit to the duration of when the compromised personally identifiable information can be used. The federal government is responsible for the nerve-racking breaches and Congress has an obligation to make affected employees whole by passing our bill.”
After the OPM data breaches in 2015, the government initially only offered free identity protection coverage to current, former and prospective federal employees for three years. It was Norton and Ruppersberger who initially pushed for the current 10-year coverage.
“The personal records stolen by hackers have no shelf life — so the identity theft protection offered to the victims shouldn’t, either,” Ruppersberger said. “As we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week, providing these dedicated and hard-working men and women with a little well-deserved peace of mind is the least we can do. I am proud to again support this effort.”
OWI Take: OWI Vice President of Risk Management Ross Nodurft previously worked as Chief of the Cyber and National Security team in the White House Office of Management and Budget. “The OPM breach opened the country’s eyes to the urgent need for a dynamic approach to identity,” Nodurft said. “As more of our commercial and social interactions shift to digital platforms, identity theft will continue to grow. While offering identity theft protection to those affected is important, we must invest in new, innovative approaches to provide unique, private, and unassailable digital identification.”