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Senators Push for Consumer Data Security Hearing
WASHINGTON (1/3/14)--Senate Banking Committee members Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) are looking to add a hearing on consumer data security to the early-2014 committee agenda.

The senators this week wrote to committee chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) requesting an examination of "whether market participants are taking all appropriate actions to safeguard consumer data and protect against fraud, identity theft, and other harmful consequences, and whether we need stronger industry-wide cybersecurity standards."

"We also believe it would be helpful for the Committee to hear from our financial regulators as to whether they have the necessary tools, information, and authority to ensure that financial companies and service providers are doing enough to protect consumer data, and, in the event that a breach does occur, to minimize the harm to affected parties and take appropriate enforcement actions...When it comes to data security, consumers' interests must come first," the senators wrote.

The letter noted the recent Target data breach, which compromised 40 million debit and credit cards and included stolen encrypted PIN data.

Credit unions and other financial institutions have had to reissue millions of debit and credit cards to consumers impacted by the breach. Security and payments industry experts are debating the implications of the breach on payment systems, discussing whether debit cards will suffer from a drop in consumer confidence, and whether having the EuroPay MasterCard Visa (EMV) chip-standard technology in place would have helped protect consumer data. (See Jan. 2 News Now story: Target Breach Effect on Payment Systems Under Debate.)

The Credit Union National Association is urging credit unions whose members' accounts were compromised to collect data about the costs they incur in replacing cards and assisting members. CUNA is also developing a website to assist in the efforts to track the costs imposed by the breach.

The House and Senate are scheduled to return to Washington on Jan. 6. For now, a Jan. 8 hearing on the U.S. Government Accountability Office's report on government support for bank holding companies is the lone item on the early Senate Banking Committee agenda. The House Financial Services Committee has also announced four early-2014 hearings. (See News Now: Fed, Dodd-Frank on Early House Financial Services Hearing Agenda.)


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