Former Equifax chief Richard Smith returned to Capitol Hill for a second day of congressional hearings into his company’s data breach, this time appearing before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.
Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) characterized the Equifax breach as “shocking and concerning,” sentiments that were shared by both Republicans and Democrats alike. Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) went further and said that “a goldmine for hackers” such as the trove of personal information stored by Equifax “should be a digital Fort Knox.” Brown continued to criticize Smith and Equifax for their handling of the breach, saying that the American public has grown accustomed to large companies getting off the hook for perpetrating similar large scale scandals.
During the hearing Smith unveiled Equifax’s plan to allow consumers to control access to their credit data by allowing them to lock and unlock their data at any time and at no cost. His proposal drew interest from the Banking committee members, who inquired about the details and logistics of the plan. According to Smith, this tool will roll out to consumers in early 2018.
The tool’s objectives mirror those of a bill touted by Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) in the previous day’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Equifax breach. The Free Credit Freeze Act, H.R. 3878, would allow consumers to freeze and unfreeze their credit data at any time at no charge.
Smith is slated to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee later this afternoon and before the House Financial Services Committee tomorrow morning. Whether after five high profile hearings Congress is able to come together with legislative solutions to both prevent such breaches from occurring in the future and mitigate the damage from the still-unfolding Equifax breach remains to be seen.