OLYMPIA, Wash. (2/7/08)--The Washington Insurance, Financial Services & Consumer Protection Committee approved a bill on an 8-1 vote that would give financial institutions the ability to hold accountable businesses that handle and store unencrypted sensitive consumer information negligently. Sponsored by State Rep. Brendan Williams (D-22), HB 2838 now moves to the House Rules Committee for further consideration. “In the fight against identity theft, this is a big score for Washington consumers,” said John Annaloro, Washington Credit Union League president/CEO. “This bill provides incentives to financial institutions to proactively protect personal consumer information, including credit and debit card numbers.” The 8-1 committee vote was a surprise, considering the growing opposition to the legislation from retailers, restaurants, grocers, the National Federation of Independent Business and banks, said the league. “After negotiating at least four substantive draft versions of the legislation at this point, we’ve reached the crux of the issue--should negligent data breachers be held accountable for the costs incurred by a credit union trying to protect consumers from harm,” said Stacy Augustine, league senior vice president and general counsel. The Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee is tentatively scheduled to consider companion bill SB 6425 this week. The Senate version of the bill is sponsored by State Sen. Rosa Franklin (D-29) and faces similar industry opposition, the league said.