Virginia is updating its extortion laws to include threats to expose personally identifiable information, which is exactly what a member of the state's House of Delegates experienced last summer.
According to a report by Washington, D.C., NPR affiliate WAMU, Delegate David Bulova, representing Fairfax county in Northern Virginia, received an email from a person claiming knowledge of Bulova's social security number, and demanding $30,000 to keep it private. Bulova assumed the e-mail was spam, and ignored it.
That evening, Bulova received a phone call from the same person, saying he had sent the email and would sell the delegate's personal information if he didn't receive the payment, according to the report.
When Bulova contacted Virginia's attorney general's office, he discovered that the state's extortion laws cover threats to an individual's property or character - personally identifiable information didn't fit into either category.
A bill to update the state's extortion laws was passed by the General Assembly, and is en route to Governor Bob McDonnell, the report said. Considering the amount of harm that can be done by selling a person's identifiable information to be used in identity theft, states across the country as well as the federal government should consider updating their laws.