Target Data Breach Has Congress Eying Data-Security Alternatives

A key Republican said Wednesday that the string of data thefts dictated a hard look at national policy.

Upton: In the pipeline loop.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
Dustin Volz
Feb. 5, 2014, 11:27 a.m.

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 »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
11 hours ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
12 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

PRESIDENT CALLS MEDICAID FUNDS A “BAILOUT”
Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Source:
POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
1 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login