We’ve seen this many times – delays in notification so as not to interfere with a law enforcement investigation. But should there be some limits on how long notification can be delayed or should it be open-ended at law enforcement’s request, keeping in mind that law enforcement can only request, it seems, but not order the entity not to disclose?
In terms of a balancing act, if the data involved are “just” credit or debit cards, it’s relatively easy to restore individual’s accounts and issue new account numbers, and it should be relatively easy (although often isn’t) to get credit reports corrected and restored. So even though it’s inconvenient for customers who may be without their cards for a while and who may have to re-do any accounts on automatic payment and spend time correcting credit reports, consumers can be restored and compensated.
But what about if the data being stolen or compromised include SSN or medical information? Should the criminal activity be allowed to run for another year or so while law enforcement investigates and people’s sensitive information or SSN may wind up in the hands of others? If people become identity theft victims or medical identity theft victims (and not just card fraud or new account fraud victims), it’s a lot harder to fix things. We’ve seen cases where people are arrested erroneously as a result of ID theft. We know that medical identity theft can lead to treatment errors and potentially serious medical care and/or insurance problems. What about those risks? Does law enforcement’s understandable needs outweigh what happens as more people become victims because no one notified them in a timely fashion?
Do we need to draw a line on nondisclosure for law enforcement purposes or not?
You can read Musthaler’s commentary on SecurityBistro.