Even by Washington standards, Thursday's scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee vote on a data breach disclosure law is clouded by uncertainty. There's the small matter of a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court nomination.

If the Judiciary Committee decides this morning to send Judge John Roberts' nomination to the full Senate, the panel may have enough time to consider the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2005. Then again, it might not.

''It's just too soon to tell,'' an aide to bill sponsor Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told internetnews.com less than 24 hours before the scheduled vote.

The proposed legislation makes it a crime to intentionally or willfully conceal a security breach involving personal data and increases penalties for computer fraud when the fraud involves personal data.

The bill also limits the buying, selling or displaying of a Social Security number without the consent of the owner of the number and bars government agencies from posting on the Internet public records that contain Social Security numbers.

Introduced in June by Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the panel's ranking member, the legislation follows months of hearings on the data breaches at ChoicePoint, LexusNexus and CardSystems.

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