Two Democratic senators want to make the law tougher on credit reporting agencies that get breached by hackers,in 2017.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia introduced a bill Wednesday that aims to make data breaches hurt companies' bottom lines. The bill addresses problems the lawmakers say let credit reporting agencies collect consumer data without doing enough to protect it from hackers.
"The financial incentives here are all out of whack," Warren said in a statement. "Equifax allowed personal data on more than half the adults in the country to get stolen, and its legal liability is so limited that it may end up making money off the breach."
Equifax didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
If passed into law, the bill would give the US Federal Trade Commission the authority to inspect the companies that collect vast amounts of financial data on consumers to make sure they're protecting that information. It would also let the agency fine them in the event of a data breach, to the tune of $100 per affected consumer as a minimum. Half of that money would be redistributed to the consumers caught up in the data breach.
In the case of the Equifax breach, that would have meant a fine of at least $14.3 billion. However, the fines would be capped at 50 percent of a company's gross revenue from the prior year.
Former Equifax CEOthat a combination of human error and technical problems prevented the company from patching a critical software bug in time. Hackers used a known vulnerability in software running a computer application called Apache Struts to breach the company's systems, Equifax said.
Warrenin the wake of the Equifax hack, too. She proposed a bill that would have required credit reporting agencies to let consumers freeze their credit indefinitely, and unfreeze it at any time, at no cost. Her other bill would have prevented employers from making hiring decisions based on credit reports. Neither bill made it out of committee before the end of the legislative year.
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