Former Equifax CEO Rick Smith is scheduled to testify before three Capitol Hill committees this week about the data breach that compromised the personal information of 145 million customers. The AJC will provide a full report on Smith’s testimony today on myAJC.com after the hearing.
How to watch the hearings online: Today’s 10 a.m. hearing is being streamed on C-SPAN 3 at c-span.org or
on the Energy and Commerce Commitee site: https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings/oversight-equifax-data-breach-answers-consumers/
You can also watch a live stream below.
Here are some key lawmakers to watch, from Georgia and other sates.
U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga.
Perdue is a former Fortune 500 CEO, which will make his questions to Smith during his Banking Committee testimony particularly notable. Not only that, but Equifax is a hometown company, which means Perdue may tread carefully. He’s so far steered clear of criticizing the credit firm harshly in the press and instead focused his reaction on data security in general. “This is much bigger than one company,” he told the AJC last week. “The question with Equifax is what people knew and when, and what’s the responsibility. Then we’ll begin to react to what needs to be done, if anything, from up here.”
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville
Loudermilk is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which is holding its Equifax hearing with Smith on Thursday. The day the data breach was made public, Loudermilk was lobbying for the advancement of his bill that would curtail the use of class action lawsuits against businesses. Consumer groups howled, arguing that it would take away the rights of consumers to sue bad actors such as Equifax. Loudermilk disputed that assessment but also said later that Equifax needed to be accountable for the breach. “Businesses such as Equifax that obtain and store massive amounts of information on individuals must be held to the highest data protection standards,” he said.
U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta
Scott’s response to the Equifax breach was different from most of his Georgia colleagues. On the one hand, the Financial Services Committee member said new regulations are likely needed to prevent similar breaches in the future. “I’m now beginning to see how our lack of cybersecurity is becoming a very serious national security issue,” he said last month. “I think we’ve been sort of sleeping.”
On the other hand, Scott has generally been friendly to Equifax, which in the past has resisted regulation. Equifax is “a longstanding Georgia company and we want to make sure that they come out of this standing as tall as possible,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho
The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Crapo is an incredibly powerful voice in the chamber on the financial services industry and cyber security. Any attempt to change the rules and regulations governing Equifax and its competitors would need to go through him. Crapo preached caution immediately following the breach. “First of all, we need to understand the facts,” he said last week. Crapo is also lead sponsor of a bill that would nullify an Obama-era rulemaking on forced arbitrations, legislation that critics say would take power away from consumers to sue corporations such as Equifax.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
The long-rumored 2020 presidential hopeful is a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which gives her a chance to grill Smith on Wednesday. A consumer protection advocate whose work led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren is not expected to go easy on Smith. She recently launched her own investigation into Equifax and its two competitors. She also co-sponsored a bill offering free credit freezes to consumers. Equifax “occupies a unique place in the financial world: they obtain and use massive troves of data on millions of consumers, but consumers have little to no power over how this data is collected, how it is used, or how it is kept safe,” she wrote in a recent letter to the Government Accountability Office.
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
The top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, Waters has proposed one of the broadest overhauls of the country’s credit reporting system following the Equifax breach. The day after the hack was announced, Waters said Congress “must diligently examine the way our credit reporting agencies are operating and impose additional statutory and regulatory reforms to protect the integrity of the country’s credit reporting system.”
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