HARRISBURG - Gov. Rendell last week signed a bill into law to help protect Pennsylvanians whose personal information has been lost or stolen from computer systems. “This new law will ensure that people’s personal information is protected in the event it’s stolen,” Rendell said. “Identity thieves can use false IDs to obtain lines of credit or loans. When this happens, they damage credit reports and wreck lives and it can take years for victims to recover. Senate Bill 712 will provide a strong line of defense in the event personal information is stolen.” SB 712 establishes the “Breach of Personal Information Notification Act” and says a state agency, political subdivision, individual or business that operates in Pennsylvania and maintains, stores or manages personal consumer information on computer, must notify people if their security systems are breached. Personal information under the bill includes an individual’s first name, or initial, and last name; social security number; driver’s license, or state-issued I.D., number; or a financial account number. Notification of the breach may be made in writing, by telephone, via email, or by a combination of email, posting on the entity’s website, or notification to statewide media where the cost of providing notice is in excess of $100,000 and would affect at least 175,000 people. Notification may be delayed if a law enforcement agency decides it will impede their investigation. Also, when an entity provides notification to more than 1,000 people at once, the bill provides that national consumer credit reporting agencies will also be notified. A violation of the act shall constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. The Attorney General is charged with bringing action for such violations. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Robert C. Wonderling (R-Bucks/Lehigh/Montgomery/ Northampton), passed the Senate 50-0 and the House concurred, with amendments, 191-0. The Senate agreed 50-0. The bill becomes effective in 180 days.