The House subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing during the first week of February to “examine data breaches and their effect on consumers” – and Target is the guest of honor.
As you may recall, back in December the retail giant announced a massive data breach, claiming that criminals had gained access to customer information around Black Friday and held on to it for nearly two weeks. At first, Target said that approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been compromised. Later, the company upped that approximation to about 70 million accounts.
“I know that it is frustrating for our guests to learn that this information was taken and we are truly sorry they are having to endure this,” said Target president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel at the time.
In an attempt to smooth things over, Target offered a year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to all customers who shopped at a U.S. store. Of course, Target also said that no customer would assume liability for fraudulent charges.
Nevertheless, lawmakers in Washington see the massive Target breach as a symptom of a growing trend – the large-scale consumer data breach.
“Tens of millions of Americans have had their information compromised in recent weeks, and consumers deserve to know what information has been taken and the potential threats that exist. By examining these recent breaches and their consequences on consumers, we hope to gain a better understanding of the nature of these crimes and what steps can be taken to further protect information and limit cyber threats,” said Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Lee Terry (R-NE) in congressional release.
Law enforcement officials will also be part of the hearing.
“For those consumers concerned they have been a victim of a data breach, we want them to know that there are resources available and actions they can take to help protect their identity and account information. Public awareness is a critical first defense, and our alert provides consumers with proactive steps they can take to avoid or lessen consequences of these criminal activities. This subcommittee has had several hearings on data breach and we will continue aggressively working to safeguard Americans in this increasingly digital world.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons