Senator: Snapchat ‘Hiding Something’ About Hack

The company refused to testify at a data-security hearing.

The logo of mobile app 'Snapchat' is displayed on a tablet on January 2, 2014 in Paris. Hackers broke into Snapchat, the hugely popular mobile app, accessing the phone numbers and usernames of 4.6 million users and publishing them online.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
March 26, 2014, 11:38 a.m.

A top Demo­crat­ic sen­at­or said Wed­nes­day that he sus­pects the photo-shar­ing app Snapchat is not be­ing forth­com­ing about a hack earli­er this year that ex­posed per­son­al in­form­a­tion of mil­lions of its users.

Sen­ate Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jay Rock­e­feller said he had in­vited Snapchat to testi­fy at a hear­ing on data breaches but that the com­pany re­fused to at­tend.

“When people re­fuse to testi­fy in front of this com­mit­tee, my in­stincts “¦ are they are hid­ing something,” Rock­e­feller said dur­ing the hear­ing, which fea­tured testi­mony from a Tar­get ex­ec­ut­ive. “In this in­stance, on this sub­ject, I think it war­rants closer scru­tiny.”

In Janu­ary, a hack­er pub­lished a list of 4.6 mil­lion names and phone num­bers of Snapchat users.

Mary Ritti, a Snapchat spokes­wo­man, ac­know­ledged that the com­pany de­clined Rock­e­feller’s in­vit­a­tion.

“While a rep­res­ent­at­ive from Snapchat was not able to testi­fy, we did co­oper­ate fully with the com­mit­tee and its staff,” Ritti said in an email. “We provided in­form­a­tion in ad­vance of the hear­ing and we are com­mit­ted to con­tinu­ing that dia­logue.”

Rock­e­feller is push­ing le­gis­la­tion that em­powers the Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion to set data-se­cur­ity reg­u­la­tions and fine com­pan­ies for vi­ol­a­tions. At Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing, he urged busi­ness groups to ne­go­ti­ate with him on the bill.

“While I’m will­ing to hear their con­cerns about my le­gis­la­tion — or any oth­er le­gis­la­tion — I’m not will­ing to for­feit the ba­sic pro­tec­tions Amer­ic­an con­sumers have a right to count on,” he said.

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