"I'm calling on Congress to create a strong, national standard for quickly alerting consumers whose information may be compromised," Holder said in a video message. "This would empower the American people to protect themselves if they are at risk of identity theft. It would enable law enforcement to better investigate these crimes -- and hold compromised entities accountable when they fail to keep sensitive information safe. And it would provide reasonable exemptions for harmless breaches, to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on businesses that do act responsibly."
He said the legislation would strengthen the Justice Department's ability to combat crime, ensure individual privacy, prevent identity theft and help bring cybercriminals to justice.
He noted the department was still investigating last year's massive data breach reported by U.S. discount retailing giant Target Corp. The hacking of the Minneapolis company's computer system may have compromised the personal information of up to 70 million people, and credit- and debit-card data of up to 40 million customers.
"We are moving aggressively to respond to hacking, cyberattacks, and other crimes that harm American consumers and expose personal or financial information to those who would take advantage of their fellow citizens," Holder said.