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(Dateline Washington , D.C., January 6, 2031)
The first session of the 122nd Congress opened today, with Senate leaders vowing that this would be the year that they would pass the Leahy-Specter Memorial Data Protection and Mandatory Breach Notification Act. Some Beltway insiders had suggested that previous failures to enact the legislation were due to the unpronouncabilty of â€œLSMDPMBNA,â€ but others had suggested that until now, Congressâ€™s priority had been to debate how we landed up in wars with Iran, Korea, and Canada without Congress ever authorizing any of those wars.
Over the holidays, members of Congress were shocked to read that unencrypted data on a laptop computer lost by a Kaiser Impermanente employee had been found and leaked to the media. The data revealed how Representative Kale Jacksonâ€™s daughter had had 4 elective abortions before the age of 15, how Senator Reid Smitherâ€™s son had undergone inpatient treatment for early-onset Huntingtonâ€™s Chorea and narcotic abuse, and how Representative JoAnne B. Lane was currently under psychiatric treatment for depression following her recent divorce.
â€œThis is a terrible breach of privacy,â€ stated Senator John Kerry, after dodging questions as to whether he would be running for President again in â€˜32. Representative Lamar Smith concurred, placing the blame firmly on the NY Times for publishing such sensitive information.
A spokesperson for Kaiser Impermanente stated that the company was committed to protecting the privacy of patients and customers, and was looking into the incident. â€œAs far as we can tell, although the data were not encrypted, they should have been very difficult to read because they require specialized equipment that most computer users donâ€™t have.â€ Editors for the NY Times confirm that they had to purchase obsolete software on eBay for $17, thereby delaying publication for a few days.
Online bloggers who have followed privacy legislation for years expressed hope that since members of Congress were now personally affected by recent breaches, Congress might finally pass strong legislation. But as White House spokesperson Sean Hannity reminded everyone, President Cheney had vowed to veto any bill that requires businesses to encrypt their data or that permits any individual cause for action or lawsuit under the bill. The president, who is recovering from his 19th heart attack, was not available for comment. Vice President Jeff Gannon declined to comment, noting only that it was his understanding that there were already adequate measures and remedies in place under the piece of federal legislation known as HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).