Lawmakers call Equifax response to breach inadequate
House Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday lashed out at the former head of Equifax, demanding answers for the massive data breach that compromised the sensitive personal information of an estimated 145 million Americans.
Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said that if Equifax wants to stay in business, its entire corporate culture needs to change to one that values security and transparency.
“We want answers for consumers because Equifax’s response to this breach has been unacceptable,” said Pallone, the top Democrat of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Republican Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, the committee’s chairman, said the hearing was necessary to do something that Equifax has failed to do in recent months: “Put Americans first.”
Former Equifax chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith testified before a House panel, the first of four hearings on Capitol Hill this week as Congress examines what went wrong. The sessions typically turn into a public shaming, and this year the Republican-led Congress has worked to ease government regulations on businesses.
The revelation last month of the disastrous hack to Equifax’s computer system rocked the company which faces several state and federal inquiries and several class-action lawsuits. Smith said the company was cooperating with the FBI and state agencies.
Smith attributed the breach to human error and technological error, and said both errors have been addressed.
He also told lawmakers that when the breach was first discovered on July 31, company officials did not realize that personal information about consumers had been stolen. He described suspicious activity against the company’s database as routine.
“As we all painfully learned, data security is a national security problem,” Smith told lawmakers.
He said no single company can solve the problem on its own and said a system was needed that would let consumers control access to their personal data.
“Let me close by saying how sorry I am […]