Capitol Report: Protecting Your Privacy

Oct 21, 2014

These days we not only need to protect our privacy from online hackers but from the federal government. The bulk data collection done by the National Security Agency unmasked earlier this year poses a threat to our civil liberties. National Cyber Security Awareness Month reminds us that the government needs to honor our constitutional right to privacy.  It also reminds us that there are bad actors in the online world, and we need to take necessary precautions to protect our privacy.

I have worked to limit the amount of bulk data the federal government can collect on American citizens and to require the government to destroy any information that it collected unlawfully. In a report released last week, the National Security Administration said that they “could inadvertently collect data that is not related to the target” of a national security investigation. This potentially puts innocent Americans’ personal information at the mercy of shadowy bureaucrats. The House of Representatives passed the USA FREEDOM Act to protect our civil liberties five months ago, but like 387 other bills, it remains stuck in the Senate.

On the bright side, there are some simple steps you can take during National Cyber Security Awareness Month to protect yourself from cybercrimes including fraud and identity theft. Start by strengthening your passwords. Just add characters in the place of letters to make your passwords more difficult to guess. Experts recommend that you use different passwords on different websites, and place password protection on your mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. Regularly update your computer software, so that the updates can fix bugs that make your computer susceptible to intrusion. Finally, think before you click.  One of the most successful ways hackers obtain your personal information is through links advertising claims too good to be true.

Working together we can increase cyber protections in Washington and at home.