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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Bill Requires A.G. To Be Notified When Hackers Hit Montanans

A conceptual graphic showing a padlock in front of nodes representing internet connections.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox wants his department to be notified any time online hackers steal personal information about Montana residents. 

Fox’s bill, being sponsored by Butte Democrat Ryan Lynch, was heard in the House Judiciary Committee Monday morning. 

Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion says the Consumer Protection office needs to be kept in the loop when Montanans are the victims of data theft.

"We also get calls from these people when they get the notification saying is this a scam, should I be responding to this, what should I do. And if we haven’t been notified of it, then we can’t advise them what they should do."

Any company or state agency that discovers its customer data has been stolen is already required to notify everyone affected. The bill would also require them to tell the Attorney General's office the number of people affected, and what type of data was stolen, but not the actual data. Nineteen states already have similar requirements.  

Insurance industry lobbyist Bruce Spencer opposed the bill, because it adds one more government agency the industry would have to answer to.

"Large insurance companies have great difficulty when Montana decides to change the rules or do something Montana specific," Spencer said. "They are used to reporting and working with their state insurance office, not the office of consumer protection."

Six months ago the Montana Department of Public Health was hacked into. The Department notified one point three million people their records might have been accessed. The Judiciary committee will decide later whether to send the bill to the House Floor for a vote.

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