If your personal data gets hacked, then why not file a lawsuit? That's what Vermont librarian Jessamyn West did by successfully suing Equifax over its 2017 hack, which exposed the personal data over 140 million people.
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Here's some good news for massive corporations that have violated the public trust by exposing the personal data of millions of consumers, as if they needed it: the US government's new chief watchdog is one of their own. Andrew Smith, a lawyer who has represented dozens of firms including Facebook and Equifax, will serve as the head of the Federal Trade Commission's consumer protection unit.
Last winter, Equifax experienced one of the most devastating data breaches in history. In an incredible stroke of luck, several executives had dumped their stock in the company prior to the news going public. They were cleared of wrongdoing, but earlier this week, the SEC filed insider trading charges against a different executive for his own fortuitous cash-out.
After Equifax's negligence allowed hackers to steal the personal information of 145.5 million Americans, the company promised to give everyone free credit monitoring for a year. But House Democrats have formally requested that Equifax extend the monitoring from one year to three years. Even that, however, feels pretty damn inadequate.
Equifax discovered on July 29 that it had been hacked, losing the Social Security numbers and other personal information of 143 million Americans - and then just a few days later, several of its executives sold stock worth a total of nearly $US1.8 million ($2.4 million). When the hack was publicly announced in September, Equifax's stock promptly tanked, which made the trades look very, very sketchy.
House Democrats and Republicans have found common ground in their joint effort to uncover precisely what Equifax knew prior to revealing its data breach last month. That effort continued on Wednesday as lawmakers sought to learn more about what the embattled credit agency is doing to aid the roughly 145 million victims of this self-imposed calamity.
In awarding a $US7.25 million contract to Equifax to help verify US taxpayers' identities, the Internal Revenue Service set itself up for a massive backlash. But in a letter obtained by Gizmodo on Thursday, IRS chief John Koskinen argues that the circumstance was unavoidable. Not awarding the contract, he writes, would have prevented thousands of hurricane victims from obtaining much needed…tax information.
If you've paid any attention to American news this week, you've probably seen Congress repeatedly taking Equifax's former CEO out to the woodshed. It's been quite the shellacking. And it almost seemed as if we'd finally reached a breaking point. America wasn't going to put up with companies recklessly handling people's private data, losing control over it, saying "sorry", and moving on like it's business as usual any longer.
Equifax's former CEO Richard Smith -- who "retired" after a massive data breach at his company resulted in the theft of personal information for more than 143 million people -- is set to testify before a Congressional subcommittee on consumer protection tomorrow. Smith will be expected to explain exactly how Equifax bungled its response to the hack, and his prepared testimony sheds some light on exactly what went wrong.
Richard Smith has retired as CEO and chairman of Equifax in the wake of his company's gross mishandling of one of the worst data breaches in US history, which compromised the data of an estimated 143 million Americans. One of the first plans he has during his retirement is an appearance at Senate Banking Committee hearing on October 4.