Govt. begins contacting tens of millions affected by China’s OPM hack as controversial cyber bill nears debate

( The federal Office of Personnel Management has begun notifying tens of millions of current and former government employees that their information was likely compromised in a cyber theft incident blamed on China, even as the Senate is expected to soon take up a controversial new cyber security bill.

As reported by FierceGovernmentIT, OPM officials have started sending notification letters to those affected by the breach. A blog post from the agency’s acting director, Beth Cobert, said that about 21.5 million people who had personally identifiable information stolen will receive their notification through regular mail. The process is expected to take a “considerable” amount of time, given the sheer number of people affected and the time it will take to physically print, prepare and mail the letters.

In her post Cobert wrote that notification would not take place via email. Also, no one from OPM or acting on the behalf of OPM would call recipients to discuss the cyber breaches, Cobert said, and any such calls should be disregarded.

“If you are contacted by anyone asking for your personal information in relation to compromised data or credit monitoring services, do not provide it,” she wrote.

The letters will also contain personalized identification numbers so that affected individuals will be able to sign up for federally-provided identity protection services that include identity monitoring, credit monitoring, identity restoration and identity theft insurance.

OPM is also providing a Cybersecurity Resource Center online, where those affected can enroll in the variety of services.

Cobert also noted that if victims had their fingerprints stolen they would be notified of that as well.

Meanwhile, as reported by The Hill, the Senate is preparing to take up a stalled cybersecurity measure that many feel is a threat to privacy.

“The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) — intended to bolster the exchange of cyber threat data between companies and the government — has long been on the verge of making it to the upper chamber floor, but been continuously delayed by privacy concerns and party squabbles over procedure,” The Hill reported.

However, as Natural News has reported, critics believe the measure will allow the federal government to collect virtually unlimited personal information, and without first obtaining a constitutionally required warrant.

“The way it works is like this: Companies will be granted new permission to monitor users, on their systems as well as those of any other system. Then, in order to receive immunity from all existing laws limiting mass domestic spying, the companies would be encouraged to share with the government broadly defined ‘cyber threat indicators,’” Natural News reported.

This may amount to a number of things associated with an account including email content, passwords, IP addresses or other personally identifiable information.

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