New legislation aims to help prevent bad guys from getting personal data.

This bill would make it illegal for a state employee to remove from a state government office documents containing social security numbers, unless the employee's job duties require him to do so.

State Representative Marlin Schneider (D-Wisconsin Rapids) drafted the measure after a conscientious state employee took her work home with her, but had the computer stolen, along with the personal information of many lawmakers. Kevin St. John, with the Department of Justice, testifies at a capitol hearing, that his office recognizes that ID theft is a major problem, with about 10-million Americans a year becoming victims, but the DOJ is opposed to the legislation because it could inadvertently impair law enforcement and inhibit state lawyers from doing their jobs.

Others testified that this bill is too vague, too limited and is solely geared toward state employees, even though our Social Security numbers are freely and widely used by financial institutions, hospitals and other businesses. State contractors aren't included, but Schneider recognized that, and said he's OK with amending the bill. Others suggested each agency develop its own safety policies, and many agreed that the bigger issue is to change the way Social Security numbers are used.

Schneider and St. John were among several people who testified at a Consumer Protection and Personal Privacy committee hearing at the state capitol on Thursday.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report (1:54 MP3)

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