Bill Would Penalize Credit Reporting Agencies for Consumer Data Breaches

Bill Would Penalize Credit Reporting Agencies for Consumer Data Breaches

The legislation, introduced by Senators Warren and Warner, would enable the FTC to supervise CRA's data security practices, establishes penalties for violations of data security practices, and ensures that consumers whose data is stolen are compensated.

Under the draft law, the FTC would create an Office of Cybersecurity that would be responsible for reviewing and inspecting credit reporting agencies.

As the LA Times notes, the Data Breach and Compensation Act would also "add a $50 fine for each additional piece of compromised personally identifiable information for each consumer".

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 US citizens.

The lawmakers said that consumers typically get $1 or $2 in restitution if their personal data is stolen.

The bill, called the Data Breach and Compensation Act, would direct the Federal Trade Commission to funnel half of any fine to compensate affected consumers. The programmatic and reporting requirements, together with greater transparency and accountability about companies' actions to protect consumer data, will help strengthen the internet ecosystem and enhance trust in the digital economy. "But if companies like Equifax can't properly safeguard the enormous amounts of highly sensitive data they are collecting and centralizing, then they shouldn't be collecting it in the first place".

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Not only that, but this bill would actually be putting money back into the pockets of consumers.

"U.S. PIRG commends Senators Warren and Warner for the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act".

Consumer and security groups appear to support the legislation.

"This approach says it's not about having a bunch of regulators come in and tell them how to design it, it's about saying there are real consequences if you do not provide adequate security for this data", Warren said. Francis Creighton, the group's president, said the companies "already comply with the same rigorous data protection standards as banks" and will work with Congress to find ways to protect consumers "without impeding their access to credit".

Senators Mark Warner and Elizabeth Warren's bill is in response to a data breach at Equifax that put the information of 145 million Americans at risk. We'll see how many of these bills will pass, if any proposed federal bills will pass in the future, and if any of these bills will have enough bite to truly protect consumers.

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