Congress has always been discussing some sort of solution or legislation to dealing with breaches at larger companies, and this particular bill aimed at credit reporting firms comes from Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).
Two Democratic senators floated legislation Wednesday that would boost the Federal Trade Commission's authority over large credit reporting agencies, including by levying penalties for consumer data breaches like the massive one at Equifax that compromised the personal information of roughly half the US population.
The act would establish an Office of Cybersecurity at regulator the FTC which would have responsibility for annual inspections and supervision of security-related issues. It would impose mandatory, strict liability penalties for breaches of consumer data beginning with a base penalty of $100 for each consumer who had one piece of personal identifying information (PII) compromised and another $50 for each additional PII compromised per consumer. "The penalties would double in cases where the credit reporting firm did not comply with federal data security standards or failed to notify officials of the breach in a timely manner".
Equifax, a credit reporting agency, revealed in September 2017 that cyber attacks against the company exposed the sensitive personal information of more than 145 million USA citizens.
If this legislation had been enacted before the Equifax breach was revealed, the agency would be potentially facing a bill of at least $1.5bn, and possibly a lot more. Half of any total fine could be used to compensate any consumers affected by the breach.
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"We appreciate this bill's attention to key weaknesses in consumer data protection".
Under the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act, which was introduced by Sens.
Consumer watchdogs and cybersecurity experts praised Warren and Warner for taking steps to protect Americans' personal information and strengthen cybersecurity infrastructure.
"This bill creates greater incentive for these companies to handle our data with care and gives the Federal Trade Commission the tools that it needs to hold them accountable", said Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at Consumer Federation of America, Susan Grant. "Equifax might make money off the breach", Warren said, citing the sales of credit production products.
Consumers Union has urged lawmakers to make data security a national priority and pass legislation that would require companies to adopt reasonable practices to ensure the safety of consumer credit data.