The extensive data breach at Equifax has generated bipartisan calls for Congress to enact legislation that would better protect American consumers.
Former Equifax Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith faced tough questions from the Senate Banking Committee Oct. 4, as lawmakers from both parties called for changes to data-collection and security practices for the credit-reporting industry and beyond.
Congress needs to address the “use and protection of personally identifiable information that is being collected by the government, by the private sector, and others,” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the committee’s chairman, said during the oversight hearing on the Equifax data breach.
The breach disclosed Sept. 7 by Equifax involved the personal data for 145 million consumers—nearly half the U.S. population. Lawmakers beat up on Smith but also called for a revamp of how the credit-reporting industry is structured.
“Consumers are trapped, there’s no competition, nowhere else for them to go,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said at the hearing. “If we think Equifax does a lousy job protecting our data, we can’t take our data to someone else. Equifax and this whole industry should be completely transformed.”
Warren has called for specific changes to the credit-reporting industry and introduced a bill that would allow consumers to opt out of having their data collected and boost the bureaus’ obligations in case of breaches. Republicans on the banking committee have hinted at legislation that would address data collection more broadly.
“I’m interested in having a much more robust system in place that allows individuals to protect their private, personally identifiable information,” Crapo told reporters after the hearing, adding that he expects more discussion among lawmakers on the issue. “I believe there is bipartisan interest here,” he added.
At the hearing, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) indicated support for pending legislation that would require “cyber breach notifications for people within the industry and also between the companies and different agencies in the federal government.”
Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) are working on a revised version of a data security act they introduced in previous Congresses that would harmonize state-law standards for investigating and reporting breaches.
“My first concern is data security,” Perdue told Bloomberg BNA. “The credit houses perform a useful service, otherwise you and I would have to go aggregate all our financial data to go apply for a loan, but it opens the possibility to big breaches like this.”
Lawmakers will have to hash out the scope of any potential legislative fix.
“The conversation appears far more focused on data security than credit reporting, which reinforces our view that substantive credit reporting legislation impacting Equifax’s competitors is highly unlikely,” Isaac Boltansky, of Compass Point Research & Trading LLC, said in an Oct. 4 analyst note.
Accompanying Smith during his Hill appearance was former Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), now a partner in Atlanta with DLA Piper, which itself was hit with a cyberattack earlier this year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Tricchinelli in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at MFerullo@bna.com
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)