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Alaska Personal Information Protection Act Becomes Law


June 14, 2008

Alaska's Personal Information Protection Act, House Bill (HB) 65, has been signed into law. Sponsored by Representative John Coghill, R-North Pole, and Senator Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, the bill provides better protection to Alaskans against identity theft and fraud. Sen. Therriault sponsored the companion bill in the Alaska State Senate.

For the past four years Sen. Therriault and Rep. Coghill have worked together with other legislators in a true bipartisan effort to make passage of this protection a reality. Those Legislators included former Sen. Gretchen Guess, D-Anchorage, and Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage. Throughout this process Rep. Coghill and Sen. Therriault also worked closely with stakeholders: consumer advocacy groups, the business community, and government officials to ensure that Alaska becomes a leader in protecting individuals' personal information while still allowing modern commerce to continue.

In the modern world of electronic commerce and massive databases, it is now commonplace to read headlines detailing the latest data breach and steps that can be taken by people to protect themselves. However, as the concern by Alaskan consumers grew, it became increasingly apparent that Alaska laws lagged behind most states when it came to personal information protection.

"Identity theft is an issue of concern for all Alaskans. With the proliferation of the ever-changing information technology we now have at our disposal, we had to craft clear rules and guidelines to let businesses continue to work and also ensure the proper care of this personal information," said Rep. Coghill. "We have been trying for more than three years now to find that balance of protection from identity theft while still allowing commerce and transactions to continue, and this bill meets that need. The AARP has called this the most important issue before the Legislature this session, and I would agree."

"Recent security breaches at large companies, many of which do business in Alaska, and the growth in the use of computers and the Internet have increased the occurrence of identity theft. In 2006 the Federal Trade Commission reported that there were 384 victims of identity theft and fraud in Alaska. We all need to be more careful ­ and now we will finally have laws that will help you protect yourself and your personal information," Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, said.

Rep. Coghill and Sen. Therriault have in the past been staunch supporters of Alaskan's individual information. In 2001 they worked together closely to pass critical legislation to prohibit government from printing social security numbers on hunting, fishing, and drivers' licenses.

This legislation will provide Alaskans with tools to help better protect themselves against identity theft and fraud. Some of the important provisions of the new law include:

Notification of Security Breaches. Requires businesses and government entities that collect your personal data, to notify you if your information is acquired without authorization and it is determined that identity theft may result.

Freeze Access To Your Credit Report. Enables you to choose to protect against identity theft by freezing access to your credit report.

Protecting Social Security Numbers. Limits businesses and government from intentionally communicating your Social Security Number unless authorized by local, state, or federal law.

Disposal of Records. Business and government must take all reasonable measures to protect your personal information by developing policies and procedures for destruction of their records containing your personal information.

Factual Declaration of Innocence after ID Theft. Allows you as a victim of identity theft to petition the court and file a police report to declare your innocence. It allows the state to create a database of claims of identify theft and establish a toll-free phone number for reporting.

Credit Card Numbers.
Businesses and government may not print more than the last four digits of your credit card or the expiration date on receipts.

"This legislation will help protect Alaskans from the threat of identity theft," said Sen. Therriault. "It places restrictions on the use of Alaskans' personal information by others and gives individuals more control over their own personal and financial information. It also addresses the increasing risk to Alaskans as personal information is collected, distributed, and discarded by the private sector and governmental entities. Rep. Coghill did a great job shepherding the bill through the process."

HB 65 carries three separate effective dates. The Personal Information Protection Act takes effect immediately. The transition period for state agencies to promulgate regulations also takes effect immediately. The care of records section takes effect on July 1, 2009.



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