October 16, 2006 4:58PM

Getting Data Breach in Perspective

Indiana University law professor and cybersecurity/​informatics expert Fred Cate wrote sensibly in this weekend’s Washington Post about data security and identity fraud. “The fact is that few if any [data] breaches lead to identity theft or other consumer injuries.”

When a Department of Veterans Affairs laptop with data on 26.5 million veterans was stolen earlier this year, VA notified all of them and asked Congress for $160.5 million to cover the cost of one year of credit monitoring. Even if the laptop had not been returned (the data untouched), this reaction would have been overkill.

Washington has a hard time responding to problems dispassionately and proportionately. If only this failing could be the crisis du jour — even just for a day.