And what is so egregious about what you at Equifax have done is now, the 1.3 million people whose identities were stolen are going to have to spend the rest of their lives clearing up their good name.
It is incumbent upon all of us, including leaders in the private sector, to have the state-of-the-art security. And when you fail to do that, then yes—you should be held accountable. And the enforcement should be swift, and consumers should be notified, and there should be restitution for those consumers.
Washington, D.C. – In today’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Hearing, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) questioned Equifax C.E.O., Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., about the role that unethical collection practices played in the recent data breach that compromised the personal information of 1.3 million Nevadans and over 145 million Americans. She stressed the need for greater accountability for companies that collect consumer data without permission and then fail to protect it.
Cortez Masto said, “Let me start with Equifax, and some of the concerns that I have. I’m from Nevada, there’s about three million people there. 1.3 million were impacted by this breach. In fact, I received over four dozen letters. Let me just give you an example of one them. It’s from a constituent who lives in Carlin, who wrote, ‘No citizen has a say in the reporting practices of businesses to credit bureaus. I did not choose Equifax to store my information, nor did my husband, nor did any of our children. Yet, it is there and clearly Equifax did not do enough to protect our information.’
“It is incumbent upon all of us, including leaders in the private sector, to not only have the state-of-the-art security, sophisticated security, always evolving, always protecting that data. And when you fail to do that, then yes—you should be held accountable. And the enforcement should be swift, and consumers should be notified, and there should be restitution for those consumers. But we haven’t had a discussion on the data. To me, that’s what this is about. Because quite frankly, even those individuals that you work with now, and those consumers that had credit locks and credit freezes, their data was still breached, correct?
She continued, “Shouldn’t consumers be the ones to say, ‘I want to opt-in or opt-out’ when it comes to the data that they’re sharing with you? The consumer doesn’t have a choice. The consumer does not have a choice in the data that you’re collecting. That’s what I hear from my constituents, that’s what I hear all the time. What is so egregious about what you at Equifax have done is now, the 1.3 million people whose identities were stolen are going to have to spend the rest of their lives clearing up their good name.
“Many of our identities are already out there. For some of us, it’s too late. But for our kids, it’s not too late. We’ve got to look to the future. Companies are taking consumers’ data, they’re monetizing it, and people are getting stuck for the rest of their lives, dealing with the results of a breach. We’ve got to continue to figure out how the public and private sectors can work together to address this issue and protect our digital identities online,” Cortez Masto concluded.
Watch a full video of the exchange here.