Congress will consider new approaches to data security in the wake of major data thefts at Target and other retailers, a key House Republican said Wednesday.
Rep. Fred Upton — the top Republican on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee — suggested that Congress may need to tackle customer data security “differently” than the current system, where data protection is dictated by a patchwork of federal and state regulations.
“Breaches, identity theft, and financial fraud continue, affecting every sector from the federal government to merchants, banks, universities, and hospitals,” Upton said in his opening remarks. “We must consider whether the current multilayer approach to data security — federal, state, and industry self-regulation — can be more effective, or whether we need to approach the issue differently.”
Upton didn’t specify what legislative approach he might favor, but his endorsement of any bill creating a national reporting standard that would require retailers to notify customers when their data is at risk could go a long way toward convincing his fellow House Republicans that such a measure is needed.
Upton never acted on a previous measure backed by former Rep. Mary Bono back in 2011 that would have created a national standard. The bill never gained any momentum in Upton’s committee after it cleared the Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee, which Bono chaired at the time. Bono, a California Republican who now works as a data-security adviser with FaegreBD Consulting, told National Journal last month that Upton was supportive at the time but that the issue failed to climb unto the panel’s docket.
Democrats, meanwhile, worry that Congress could pass a paper-tiger standard that could potentially undermine stronger state protections. And they additionally are clamoring for legislation that would boost the Federal Trade Commission’s power to punish companies that provide inadequate security. At a hearing earlier in the week, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren declared, “Data-security problems aren’t going to go away on their own, so Congress seriously needs to consider whether to strengthen the FTC’s hand.”
Retailers have been quick to tell Congress they need one national reporting standard for data breaches in the wake of alarming thefts uncovered at Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels Stores, and White Lodging. But calls for federal regulation from such businesses have largely fallen on deaf ears within the Republican caucus, where many lawmakers are leery of encroaching on the private sector.
That sentiment was on display at Wednesday’s congressional hearing, the third in as many days convened to review data security. Republican Lee Terry, chairman of the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee, said he is “working on legislation that would foster quicker notification by replacing the multiple — and sometimes conflicting — state notification regimes with a single, uniform notification regime.”
But Terry also reiterated that “cumbersome statutory mandates can be ill-equipped to deal with evolving threats.” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez again countered that assumption, testifying as she did earlier this week that congressional action is “necessary.”
What We're Following See More »
"An emerging theory among U.S. military investigators is that the Army Special Forces soldiers ambushed in Niger were set up by terrorists, who were tipped off in advance about a meeting in a village sympathetic to local ISIS affiliates...The group of American Green Berets and support soldiers had requested a meeting with elders of a village that was seen as supportive of the Islamic State, and they attended the meeting at around 11 a.m. local time Oct. 4...Such meetings are a routine part of the Green Beret mission, but it wasn't clear whether this meeting was part of the unit's plan."
"The long-awaited sentencing of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was delayed Monday after a legal battle erupted over the word 'but' in President Donald Trump's most recent remarks about the case. Bergdahl's defense team argued that their client could not get a fair shake from the court because Trump, during a Rose Garden appearance on Oct. 16, at first said he couldn't talk about the case and then added: 'But I think people have heard my comments in the past.'" Trump has called him a traitor and suggested he should be executed.
"The Trump administration is coming under increased pressure from Congress to kill a landmark deal between Boeing and an Iranian airline known for engaging in terrorism over concerns the Western airline company would enable Tehran's transfer of militant fighters across the region, according to multiple sources, who told the Washington Free Beacon the administration is likely to nix the multi-billion dollar deal. The Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran paved the way for U.S. aerospace corporation Boeing to ink a deal with Iran's state-controlled airline, Iran Air, which was recently caught using its commercial planes to ferry Iranian militants to regional hotspots."
"Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News. The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller's inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort."