Since the story broke last month that data-collating goliath ChoicePoint
ChoicePoint, for its part, made an admirable effort to head off regulation by doing the right thing before Congress told it to. The company agreed not only to send out notices to every person in the U.S. whose data the thieves might have compromised, but also to pay for credit monitoring services for each of these potential victims as well.
As expensive as that effort, and others announced by the company, might be, news out just last night suggests that it might already be too late to head off regulation. According to several news reports, Anglo-Dutch publishing house Reed Elsevier
You don't think that two high-profile data breaches will give Congress enough pretext to push through regulation of this industry? Well, then consider that one year ago, hackers broke into the credit card records of discount wholesaler BJ's
Barring a miracle -- or a busload of lobbyists and two truckloads of money (yeah, same difference) -- regulation looks to be inevitable at this point. ChoicePoint's breach alone might not have tipped the scales, but if many other businesses are being ransacked as well, and most importantly, if the privacy of actual senators is now at risk, I think it's safe to say that regulation is on its way.
Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares in any company mentioned in this article.