With the return of the Congress to Washington this week and high-profile data breaches continuing to be announced, it’s worth taking stock of what 2012 holds for data security and online privacy legislation. As we described on December 28, several bills were introduced in the House and Senate last year on data security and breach notification. This week, staff of House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) said in an interview that passage of data breach legislation is the Chairman’s top priority this year and that prospects for getting her SAFE Data Act, H.R. 2577, through the House are very good. The bill stalled last year after being marked up in the Subcommittee due to concerns on both sides of the aisle that it was either too weak or too strong. Some of these concerns have been addressed, staff indicated, while additional outreach to Committee members continues. While full Committee action has not been scheduled, staff has yet-to-be-released compromise language at the ready and is optimistic the bill will move early this year.

Keep checking back here for further developments; the Senate returns to Washington next week.