U.S. Rep. Adam Smith applauded the passage of H.R. 5835, a bill to create a high-level position in the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department to protect veterans data. The bill was drafted in response to the May theft of a VA laptop that held personally identifiable data on more than 26 million veterans. Smith cosponsored the legislation, which passed the House of Representatives today by voice vote.
“Veterans must be able to trust the VA to secure the information gathered during an appointment,” Smith said. “I was disturbed by the VA’s response during the May incident that exposed tens of millions of veterans to potential identity theft. This bill is a timely move to shore up the VA’s security against similar breaches.”
H.R. 5835 includes provisions that would:
- Create an Office of the Undersecretary for Information Services inside the VA and instating three deputy undersecretaries to answer to the Undersecretary;
- Require the VA provide credit and fraud protection in the event of another data theft; and
- Require a study on whether it is feasible to use personal identification numbers instead of Social Security numbers in veterans’ records to protect patients’ identities.
The bill must now be considered by the Senate. A conference version of the legislation must then be approved by both houses of Congress before it can be sent to the President for his signature.