Week ahead in tech: Former Equifax chief takes the hot seat

Week ahead in tech: Former Equifax chief takes the hot seat
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Lawmakers are awaiting the testimony of former Equifax CEO Richard Smith on the credit reporting agency's massive data breach.

Smith, who retired from the company on Tuesday, is expected to testify before two separate panels looking into the hack in the week ahead.

He is scheduled to appear on Tuesday at 10 a.m. before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on consumer protection and on Wednesday at 10 a.m. before the Senate Banking Committee.

Smith can expect an intense grilling from lawmakers on the breach that left personal information for as many as 143 million Americans exposed to hackers.

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Equifax's chief information and security officers also stepped down in the wake of the breach.

The scope of the breach and the sensitivity of the information that was stolen has prompted widespread outrage among lawmakers in both parties and law enforcement officials across the country.

The credit reporting agency is being scrutinized over whether it took adequate security measures to protect consumer data. And lawmakers are concerned that the company is not doing enough to make amends to affected consumers in the wake of the breach.

Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Utah governor calls Bannon a 'bigot' after attacks on Romney MORE (R-Utah) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocratic senator predicts Franken will resign Thursday Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Lobbying world MORE (D-Ore.) of the Finance Committee have also demanded answers about executive stock sales after Equifax learned of the breach.

"We look forward to hearing directly from Mr. Smith on this unprecedented breach that has raised serious questions about the security of consumers' personal information," Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio), the subpanel chairman, said in a joint statement announcing the House hearing.

"We know members on both sides of the aisle appreciate Mr. Smith's willingness to come before the committee and explain how our constituents might be impacted and what steps are being taken to rectify this situation."

On Monday, the Senate will vote on whether to give Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai another term. Pai enjoys universal support among Republican lawmakers and only needs 51 votes to be reconfirmed.

But Democrats are using the vote top draw attention to policies they disagree with.

Democratic senators have taken to the floor in recent days to blast Pai's move to undo the Obama-era net neutrality rules.

Also on the tech agenda in the coming week, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on international tax reform on Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. Tax reform has been a chief concern for major technology companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft who have hundreds of billions stashed overseas and stand to save tremendous sums of money if the new GOP tax proposal is implemented. The proposal would lower corporate tax rates and give companies a one-time break to encourage them to repatriate funds from overseas.

Also on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing on how tax reform can help the "startup slump," and boost entrepreneurship.

On Wednesday the Senate Aging Committee will host a hearing at 9:30 a.m. on combating robocalls, many of which prey on the more vulnerable elderly.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to scrutinize Equifax and its data breach at 2:30 p.m.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a 10:00 a.m. hearing on Wednesday over online sex trafficking and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Technology companies have urged lawmakers not to change the law. But in the upper chamber, Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him How four GOP senators guided a tax-bill victory behind the scenes MORE (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)n have propsosed legislation that would change the law to make web companies liable for sex trafficking that could occur on their platforms.

On Thursday, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing at 9:15 a.m. examining the Equifax breach.

The Senate will also mark up their recently unveiled self-driving car legislation on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Republicans and Democrats finally reached a deal late Wednesday night on the bill, which would ease restrictions on self-driving cars. Automakers have lobbied in favor of the legislation, calling on Congress to create uniform safety rules and to help companies get more vehicles on the road for testing.

 

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