Washington, D.C. - This morning, Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) criticized the conference agreement for the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill for not including supplemental funding for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care.
He stated, "Having just traveled to Iraq to see for myself what the situation is like on the ground there, I am even more steadfast in my belief that VA must have the resources it needs to care for returning servicemembers."
In April, the Senate passed the Akaka amendment to add $430 million to VA, however, it was not included in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill. "The failure to include this VA funding in the pending measure is all the more regrettable, all the more unacceptable," he said.
Later in the day, Senator Akaka was joined by Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), and Ken Salazar (D-CO) in a press conference to discuss S. 3506, the Data Theft Prevention Act of 2006.
"It is important to recognize that although this loss of sensitive personal data involved a VA employee and VA-controlled data, it could have happened within virtually any other government department or agency. Our efforts right now must be focused on VA with respect to the actual data loss, but we must not limit our attention to VA alone," stated Senator Akaka.
"One key element of preventing such events in the future is to make sure that unauthorized downloading or other misuse of personal data from federal databases is not only wrong, but against the law. The legislation I introduced yesterday, the proposed Data Theft Prevention Act of 2006, is one way to make this happen. It will hopefully deter careless and irresponsible handling of protected personal information."
Senator Clinton stated, "I want to thank Senator Akaka for once again being our leader on behalf of America's veterans. This legislation, the Data Theft Prevention Act of 2006, is critical."
The bill would:
establish Federal criminal penalties (up to one year in prison or up to a $100,000 fine) for anyone who knowingly and without authorization views, uses, downloads or removes any means of identification or individually identifiable health information that is in a Federal database.
prohibit by law the transfer of such information to any computer, network, database or other format used to store information that is not a Federal database.
establish Federal criminal penalties for any person who uses a means of identification or individually identifiable health information obtained directly or indirectly from a Federal database in furtherance of a violation of a Federal or State criminal law.
serve as a deterrent of future breaches to personal information from Federal databases. The recent incident at VA has highlighted the need for more stringent penalties for theft of personal data to be enacted, and this bill seeks to do just that.
Senator Murray said, "I am very proud to join Senator Akaka. He is a true champion on veterans. Over the past several weeks we have all become too familiar with how dangerous it can be when Americans' private information is compromised."
Senator Akaka's full statements are available on the "Speeches and Statements" section on this web site.