Obama data breach protection legislationDuring a speech made at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington on Monday, President Obama announced several privacy proposals to help Americans in the face of increased data breaches and identity theft. According to the Washington Times, the proposals he outlined will help protect the privacy of both consumers and students in the U.S. This speech is one of several tailored to cybersecurity issues that the president will be making in the week leading up to his State of the Union address on Jan. 20.

What will new data breach protection legislation do?

If the proposed legislation is passed by Congress and made into a law, it will require companies in the U.S. to notify customers within 30 days after a data breach has been discovered or their identities have been stolen. Right now, each state has different laws in place to handle data breaches. This federal legislation would replace state laws and make it the same across the country. In the past year, we’ve seen several instances where companies waited to notify customers of a data breach for several months. A federal standard would make it illegal to do so, therefore limiting the window of time data thieves have to use a victim’s information without their knowledge. Many retailers have come out in strong favor of this data breach protection legislation, including members of the National Retail Federation.

Additionally, Obama proposed to make it illegal for companies to sell the personal information of college students for anything that isn’t related to education. Under this legislation, students would also be protected from targeted advertising based on data collected while they are in school. College students are often inundated with marketing surveys and paperwork requesting personal information, so this law would be a major step in protecting them against the misuse of such data.

Will new laws be enough to protect you?

Unfortunately, while this 30-day notification requirement will help alert people to data breaches in a timely manner, it will not protect you from a breach. If you are notified that your information has been exposed, it is vital to take all the steps you can to protect yourself — such as monitoring your bank and credit card account statements, watching for suspicious emails and phone calls as well as taking care to shred any sensitive documents before throwing them in the trash.

One of the biggest ways you can protect yourself from data breaches and the threat of identity theft is to sign up for an identity theft protection service. These services not only monitor the Internet black market and public records to ensure your personal information is not being misused, but many also offer three-bureau credit report monitoring and restoration assistance if your identity should be compromised.

Learn more about how these services can help by visiting our identity theft protection reviews.