Do Data Breach Disclosure Laws Reduce Identity Theft

Subject: Law
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1119
Topics: Law Enforcement, Crime, Criminology, Justice, Police

The first article that will be used in the assignment was authored by Sasha Romanosky, Alessandro Acquisti, and Rahul Telang. The article, which was entitled “Do Data Breach Disclosure Laws Reduce Identity Theft?” concentrated on the provision of facts and figures in a bid to answer the question. The authors claimed that the data breach disclosure laws had reduced identity theft. They arrived at their conclusion by examining information obtained from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. 

Notably, the researchers erred because the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is just one of the many channels through which information could have been accessed. The commission is tasked with the responsibility of protecting consumers through unfair business practices, deception, and anti-competition. The commission relies on complaints forwarded by consumers emanating from engagements with businesses. Importantly, many consumers fail to recognize events where their sensitive information has been stolen. Basing their judgment on the data acquired from FTC was wrong. 

The FTC was created following the formulation of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998. It was meant to act as a clearinghouse by collecting identity theft grievances from victims. Many consumers across the country are not aware of the due process to follow when instances of identity theft emerge. The widespread ignorance of legal procedures and processes deems the usefulness of the FTC in handling the cases. Consequently, it makes the conclusion drawn by the authors questionable. 

Reports from many experts across the country reveal that implementing the breach notification laws is an uphill task. Research shows that many consumers discard breach notification emails as junk instead of taking appropriate action to safeguard their identity. Many state laws require businesses to warn their customers about identity breaches. However, serious breaches are still witnessed, especially on bank statements and customer credits. In many cases, fraudulent charges may be made on a customer’s card before a company gains awareness concerning computer breaches. Under such circumstances, the breach notification law becomes redundant. 

The laws fail to provide adequate protection of consumers, unlike the picture painted by the authors. According to the law, the companies are expected to provide a notification whenever an incidence of identity theft is recorded. However, it does not guide the companies on how to instruct their customers. A proper notification letter should inform an affected customer what to do. A comprehensive plan of action should be provided to the client to protect their interests. In another research, it was discovered that many consumers fail to follow the requisite procedure. For instance, in 2004, ChoicePoint Datamining Company offered to advance credit protection and monitoring services for clients whose identity information had been compromised. Surprisingly, less than 10 percent of the affected group took advantage of the offer. 

The data breach disclosure laws may not work as supposed by the authors because it emphasized on action taken by organizations. It is true that organizations can play an instrumental role in protecting their customers. However, the customers also have a greater role in safeguarding their information. After getting information concerning a security breach, a customer is expected to take necessary action. Thus, implementation of the law could yield much fruit if workable strategies could be formulated to assist aggrieved consumers in taking appropriate action. 

In the second article, entitled “Taking Possession: The Defining Element of Theft?” Alex Steel made several statements that could not be justified by the underlying facts. In his argument, Alex posited that the Theft Act 1968 (UK) c 60, together with other legislations in Australia overlooked the need to prevent public violence. According to him, the principle of preventing public violence was historically gathered for in the common law crime of larceny. From the statement, Alex failed to inform the reader about the reasons behind developing the Theft Act 1968 (UK). Besides, the author approached the formulation and implementation of the Act from a negative angle. 

Notably, the Theft Act 1968 (UK) was developed to eliminate the technicalities associated with larceny crime at common law. Unlike the common law, the Theft Act 1968 (UK) used a simple language to ease understanding and the process of implementation. The importance of the Act can be attested by the subsequent development of theft laws in Australia, which was based on the Theft Act 1968 (UK). The Act assisted in the development of the Australian Capital Territory 2002 and the Criminal Code Act of 1983. Alex failed to understand that some of the common law principles had been outdated because of the changes in the global environment. There was a need to expand the legal framework to include theft in the business environment. 

From Alex’s viewpoint, the creation of the Theft Act 1968 (UK) was an erroneous step because a large number of different statutory extensions of larceny were combined into one complex statutory offense of theft. A look at the Act proves that his claims were wrong. The Theft Act 1968 (UK) was developed to expand legal coverage to new areas. It covered many aspects of theft in more than 30 different headings. The Act covered robbery, burglary, aggravated burglary, removal of articles from public places, motor vehicle theft, abstraction of electricity, mail-related theft outside England and Wales, obtaining property by deception, obtaining money transfer by deception, false accounting, and suppression of documents among others. It is clear that the statements made by Alex were incorrect because the provisions in the common law were considered. Alex’s claims were meant to inform that audience that the Theft Act 1968 (UK) was less superior as compared with the common law. Nonetheless, the Theft Act 1968 (UK) was thoughtful because it reflected the prevailing circumstances in the modern society. Some of the complex terms provided by the larceny law could no longer be applied. There was a need to develop a more appropriate legal framework that could include the needs of all players, including the international community. 

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The article advocated for maintaining separate offense laws to deal with different situations of theft under the line of “property belonging to another.” He argued that separation would enable each offense to gain accuracy in depicting the nature of the method of appropriation and the ethical culpability involved in every situation. The analysts failed to understand that the different parts of the Theft Act 1968 (UK) had been clearly outlined to reflect different perspectives. Besides, the nature of the offenses was clearly reflected because a simpler language had been used. Clarity was also enhanced because new fields were included in the law to cover emerging issues. Ideally, the claims presented by the author appeared baseless because the Theft Act 1968 (UK) was evidently superior. It found a great application in many parts across the globe including Australia. 

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  1. Latimer P, Australian business law 2012 (CCH Australia Limited 2012) 
  2. Sasha R, Telang R and Acquisti A, “Do Data Breach Disclosure Laws Reduce Identity Theft?” 1 
  3. Steel A, “Taking Possession: The Defining Element of Theft?” (2008) 32 Melbourne University Law Review 1 <> accessed August 9, 2017 
  4. LOUK, “Theft Act 1968” (Legislation. Org.UK) <> accessed August 9, 2017 
  5. Zetter K, “Do breach notification law work” (Wired.comMarch 2009) <> accessed August 9, 2017 
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