Retailers say they do support a federal notification standard but one that would be triggered when sensitive material has been exposed — as opposed to, say, customers' shoe sizes — and when there's a risk that it will be used for theft or fraud.
"There are different kinds of data. There's data that can lead to an identity theft (or) financial fraud, and there's data that probably doesn't have much utility to the criminals," said David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation. "If you get 20 notices a month, at some point you just turn it off."
Meanwhile, retailers remain at odds with financial institutions over how best to protect consumer data. Retailers say banks need to upgrade security technology on the credit cards they issue. Banks say retailers need to do more to enhance their own security.
"There's no agreement in the private sector among the major players about what their responsibilities are, and that makes it more difficult for us in the Congress to end up on the same page," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, in an interview.
He is sponsoring legislation that provides for notification in cases where there is "substantial risk" of identity theft or account fraud.
Carper said he's hoping for a solution, because the "alternative is a patchwork quilt that is a nightmare."