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Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Representing the 12th District of Michigan

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Dingell to Former Equifax CEO: American People Deserve the Chance to Protect Themselves

October 3, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today questioned former Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard Smith during an Energy and Commerce Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection (DCCP) Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Equifax Data Breach: Answers for Consumers.” Dingell’s questions focused on how the American people can educate themselves about who has their data, how it is being used, and take reasonable steps to secure their identity and information if they do not even know who has it. Dingell also urged consumers to be aware that it is not just Equifax, but Experian and TransUnion that are collecting this data.

“I share your belief that placing control of access to consumers’ credit data should be placed in the hands of the consumer, but most people had no idea that Equifax was even holding their data,” Dingell told Smith. “It’s one thing to take steps to mitigate damages after a breach has occurred, but going forward we must give consumers the chance to protect themselves before a breach happens.”

“Why do consumers have to pay you to access their credit report?” she continued. “Why should that data not be free? We need a longer debate about who owns this data and how we educate the American people.”

Video of Dingell’s questions, and Smith’s answers, can be viewed here

Dingell introduced the Data Protection Act of 2017 to require companies to better secure consumers’ sensitive personal information against a potential security breach. She is also a cosponsor of the Secure and Protect Americans’ Data Act, introduced by Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (NJ-06) and DCCP Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), that requires baseline data security and breach notification to fill gaps that have been revealed by the large data breaches in the past few years.

During the hearing, Dingell also asked Smith whether he or anyone on his team had seen signs that the attackers were backed by a nation-state. He refused to answer, only saying that Equifax has engaged the FBI. 

“Clearly something needs to be done,” said Dingell. “We can all sit here and talk about what went wrong, but we are doing the public a disservice to not at least begin the discussion on how to improve data security. It’s important that we take action on the topic and that all American consumers pay attention.”