A group of lawmakers are introducing legislation in both the House and the Senate that would provide free lifetime identity theft protection coverage to federal employees and retirees whose personal data has been compromised in the Office of Personnel Management data breaches.
Known as the Reducing the Effects of the Cyberattack on OPM Victims Emergency Response Act of 2015 (RECOVER Act, S. 1746), the lawmakers announced the legislation in the wake of news released by OPM which said that 21.5 million additional individuals had their personal data stolen in the second of two data breaches that hit the agency’s computer systems.
The legislation is being sponsored in the House by Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) in the Senate with Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
The bill would provide free lifetime identity theft protection coverage that includes identity theft insurance for losses up to $5 million.
Norton said the coverage that OPM is offering is inadequate. In a statement about the bill, she said, “A grand total of close to 25 million federal employees and retirees who have been thrust into uncertainty about the security of their personal data will get no peace of mind without the lifetime identity theft protection provided by the bill Senator Cardin and I will be introducing. OPM’s proposed protection would not protect workers and retirees if hackers waited a couple of years in the future before exploiting the stolen identities. The scope of the breach is bad enough; our lifetime protection would at least ease some of the anguish.”
Cardin added, “Off-the-shelf solutions are not good enough. We need to plug the holes in the federal network and make sure our workers, their families and all those who have been violated are held harmless from any damage that may be done.”
Federal employee unions have been clamoring for lifetime identity theft protection almost since day one of the announcement of the first data breach. So the legislation naturally has the endorsement of several unions representing federal workers, among them AFGE and NTEU, two unions that have sued OPM over the data breach. For more on the respective lawsuits, see AFGE Sues OPM Over Data Breaches and NTEU Sues OPM Over Data Breaches.
NTEU National President Colleen M. Kelley said in a statement, “NTEU continues to be outraged that so many of our members have had their personal information compromised due to these breaches. We will continue to pursue our lawsuit to provide lifetime credit monitoring and identity theft protection for our members and we will be supporting [this] legislation to be introduced in the next few days. We will also continue to press OPM, OMB, Congress and the president to increase the protections and the level of service provided to those affected as well as to ensure that this never happens again.”