Vermont lawmakers say they’ll try to put new safeguards on residents’ personal data in the next session, after the massive security breach at Equifax earlier this year.
Chittenden County Sen. Michael Sirotkin says he heard from more constituents about the Equifax breach than almost any other issue he’s dealt with as a lawmaker. Sirotkin says he’s now putting the finishing touches on legislation that would give Vermonters new legal options for similar breaches in the future.
“So what that means is that consumers will have a private right of action, if this bill passes, where they will be able to get their damages for their time and expense and their attorneys’ fees and the cost of repairing the problem,” Sirotkin said Thursday at a press conference announcing the legislation.
Sirotkin’s bill would also prohibit credit rating agencies, like Equifax, from charging people to freeze their credit report after a data breach, if the rating agency is responsible for the compromised data. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson says the provision will likely have broad support in Montpelier.
“You shouldn’t have to pay $10 per person in your household to every single one of the four agencies to freeze your credit and place restrictions on who can access that credit report,” Johnson says.
Johnson says lawmakers will likely consider numerous bills related to the Equifax breach next year. And she says the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development will held four public hearings in the next two weeks to see what kind of action Vermonters want lawmakers to take.
Lawmakers say Attorney General TJ Donovan will help resolve legal questions around Vermont’s ability to regulate national ratings agencies.
Johnson says the House could act on legislation as soon as January.