Competition among laws
Declan McCullagh writes cogently on the matter of national security breach legislation. His article makes many important points, and should be read widely.
However, his overall thrust — that federal legislation is inferior to state legislation as a means of addressing security breaches — touches too briefly on an important point: we can have both.
McCullagh presents a picture of the legislative process in which states act as incubators of a sort, with the best legislation being readily emulated by others. I haven’t read enough empirical work to know whether this hypothesis is false, but part of me wants to say it’s easier to buy off a state legislator than it is a congressman. Moreover, state laws can be ‘sticky’. New Jersey, for example, has had plenty of opportunity to learn from other states’ freedom of information laws. They haven’t. How quickly will Delaware or North Dakota be to copy New York’s notification law?
Anyway, read Declan’s piece — in his final paragraph he seems to be arguing not against a federal law per se, but against one that pre-empts state law. If that is the case, I could not agree more. Let the Feds set a low-water mark, and allow the states to exceed as they choose.