Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA)

Special to the NNPA from the LA Watts Times

As part of a hearing to investigate data security following breaches at large commercial retailers, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, pointed to the emerging epidemic of cyber crimes and called on legislators to ensure the safety and security of critical consumer financial information.

Waters raised concerns about the frequency of data breaches and the length of time they often go undetected. She also called on law enforcement, regulators and businesses tasked with safeguarding consumers’ information to do more to identify when and where breaches occur – and notify consumers about it as quickly as possible.

In the wake of the massive Target data breach that compromised more than 40 million credit and debit card accounts as well as the personally identifiable information of as many as 70 million consumers, Waters led Democratic members of the Financial Services Committee in calling for an inquiry into the problem. The recent hearing was a response to those inquiries.

Waters released the following statement into the record:

“Thank you, Chair Capito for scheduling this hearing on the important topic of how we can better safeguard the sensitive financial information of consumers. The recent high-profile data breaches have raised pressing concerns about the safety and security of critical consumer information – such as credit and debit card accounts and other personally identifiable information. This is an issue that is not going away.

“Testimony from the Secret Service makes it clear that the recent attacks on large retailers are just the latest in a string of breaches.

“They recognize that there has been a ‘marked increase in the quality, quantity, and complexity of cyber crimes targeting private industry,’ and that the data breaches of Target and Neiman Marcus are, ‘just the most recent, well-publicized examples of this decade-long trend of major data breaches perpetrated by cyber criminals who are intent on targeting our Nation’s retailers and financial payment systems.’

“ It’s troubling to me that despite the increasing prevalence and scale of these attacks, we don’t seem to be much closer to protecting consumer’s credit and debit account information.

“Instead of using this committee to attack the data collection and security procedures of government watchdogs like the highly successful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we should be exploring how we can take action to better protect against these types of massive security lapses in a bipartisan manner.

“Despite extensive efforts to share information among industry, law enforcement and other stakeholders, a surprising number of breaches go undetected for far too long. A 2013 Data Breach “Investigation report conducted by Verizon, found that 66 percent of breaches took “months or more” to be discovered. This is unacceptable and must change.

“Clearly, law enforcement, regulators and businesses tasked with safeguarding consumer’s information must do more to identify when and where breaches occur – and notify consumers about it as quickly as possible…”

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