Markey Calls for “Fort Knox Mentality” to protect Americans’ private data

WASHINGTON, DC -- Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Privacy and a senior Democratic Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, responded this afternoon to news of the ChoicePoint settlement with 43 states and the District of Columbia over a 2005 database breach that exposed consumers’ personal information.
“Today’s announcement is welcome news and should send a signal to the data broker industry that it is no longer acceptable to play fast and loose with Americans’ sensitive information,” said Rep. Markey. “In the more than two years since fraudsters accessed thousands of personal records held by ChoicePoint, 150 million data records of U.S. residents have been exposed as a result of security breaches at various institutions. Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, addresses, credit card data – this information is the key that unlocks the personal lives of Americans.

“We need a Fort Knox mentality when it comes to the protection of Americans’ private information, in place of the current feeble approach that leaves consumers vulnerable to identity theft or worse. Congress currently is considering several data privacy and security bills to strengthen the safeguards for personal information, including the Social Security Number Protection Act which I introduced earlier this year. The terms of the ChoicePoint settlement, including onsite audits to ensure legitimate usage of personal information, should provide additional momentum for our efforts to pass comprehensive privacy and security reforms urgently needed in the data broker industry.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Markey’s Social Security Number Protection Act, H.R. 948, was considered and passed by the full Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill would give the Federal Trade Commission rulemaking authority to restrict the sale and purchase of Social Security numbers, determine appropriate exemptions, and to enforce civil compliance with the bill’s restrictions. The full House is expected to consider this bill and additional data security and privacy legislation in coming months.

May 31, 2007

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer (Markey)