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Source: The Gov Monitor

Posted on February 2, 2010

Governor David A. Paterson and several New York State agencies joined with government officials from across the United States and 27 European countries, privacy professionals, academics, legal scholars, representatives of international businesses, and others to promote understanding of privacy best practices and rights through the observance of National Data Privacy Day.

As part of the commemoration, Governor Paterson issued a proclamation declaring January 28, 2010 Data Privacy Day in New York State. Governor Paterson noted that the New York State Consumer Protection Board (CPB), the State's Chief Information Officer/Office for Technology (CIO/OFT) and the State Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination (CSCIC) are all working to protect residents from identity theft and to address consumer and business concerns regarding data privacy and security issues.

More than 1.1 million records of New York State residents were impacted by over 400 data breaches in 2009, highlighting the need for vigilance among all entities that handle personal identifiable information in our State," said Governor Paterson. "We are committed to providing important information and resources to help businesses avoid data breaches, and assisting thousands of consumers who have fallen victim to identity theft.

New York's participation in the National Data Privacy Day underscores our dedication to protecting the privacy and personal information of our residents."

Nationally, more than 342 million records containing sensitive personal information have been involved in data breaches from 2005 – 2009, according to reports by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Identity theft is the most common consumer fraud complaint in the United States affecting approximately ten million Americans each year. New York State is sixth per capita in identity theft complaints in the nation.

"The Consumer Protection Board is pleased to join Governor Paterson and other State agencies in helping to reduce data breaches, educate the public on privacy best practices and lessen the risk of identity theft," said CPB Chairperson and Executive Director Mindy A. Bockstein. "Enhancing personal privacy is one of our top priorities as our sensitive and identifying information is a valuable asset worthy of protecting from misuse."

For this year's commemoration, the CPB is focusing on the growing problem of medical identity theft – - what it is, what to look out for, how to avoid it, and ways to fight back. The CPB is also launching an initiative called "Exercise Your Options," which will inform consumers about privacy options such as opting out of "pre-approved" offers, reducing telemarketing calls by signing up for the Do Not Call Registry, monitoring their credit history by obtaining free credit reports, and more.

The CPB has a wealth of resources for consumers on how to safeguard their personal information, including an Identity Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program in which trained personnel are available to assist New York State residents in dealing with the threat and consequences of this crime. The CPB also has valuable resources for the business community.

These include the video "Anatomy of a Data Breach: What Your Business Needs to Know" and the CPB's highly acclaimed Business Privacy Guide.

Anatomy of a Data Breach, the Business Privacy Guide and numerous resources can be accessed on the CPB's website at: www.nysconsumer.gov. Cyber security tips, webcasts, videos and guidebooks can be found on CSCIC's website at www.cscic.state.ny.us/cscorner/news. New York's information technology guidelines and related resources can be obtained at www.oft.state.ny.us.

Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, Ph.D., New York State's Chief Information Officer and Director of the Office for Technology said, "The Office of the Chief Information Officer /Office for Technology (CIO/OFT) plays a central role in protecting data and assets for New York State. CIO/OFT operates four mainframe data centers where several mission-critical applications are hosted. Data Privacy Day serves as a vital reminder of how important managing a wealth of information in a secure and responsible way is. New York State will continue to implement "best practices" in the industry regarding data privacy and security."

William F. Pelgrin, CSCIC Director said, "As cyber security threats increase in volume and complexity, continued vigilance is required to safeguard private and sensitive information from unauthorized access. User awareness at all levels is a central component in helping identify and mitigate data breach risks. CSCIC is pleased to join Governor Paterson and our State agency partners in recognizing Data Privacy Day and educating the public about data protection strategies."

The CPB, established in 1970 by the New York State Legislature, is marking its 40th anniversary as the State's top consumer watchdog and think tank.

The CPB's core mission is to protect New Yorkers by publicizing unscrupulous and questionable business practices and product recalls; conducting investigations and hearings; enforcing the "Do Not Call" law; researching issues; developing legislation; creating consumer education programs and materials; responding to individual marketplace complaints by securing voluntary agreements; and, representing the interests of consumers before the Public Service Commission and other State and federal agencies.

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