Senate Banking panel kicks off talks on data security bill

The leaders of the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday kicked off a push to write stricter data collection and security standards for financial institutions.

Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken 2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft Trump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul MORE (R-Idaho), the panel’s chairman, and Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Hillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks Senate Democrats want answers on 'dangerous' Amazon delivery system MORE (Ohio), the ranking Democrat, on Wednesday asked for input on ways to give consumers more control of personally identifiable information collected by financial firms and regulators.

Data security, privacy and collection issues are among the top bipartisan priorities for the Banking Committee, which has broad oversight over U.S. banks, lenders, insurers, traders and credit reporting agencies.

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Crapo and Brown’s call for feedback is one of the first steps toward proposing a bipartisan bill to address those concerns.

“Given the exponential growth and use of data, and corresponding data breaches, it is worth examining how the Fair Credit Reporting Act should work in a digital economy, and whether certain data brokers and other firms serve a function similar to the original consumer reporting agencies,” Crapo said in a statement.   

Crapo said he’s focused on “what data is contained in modern consumer reports, how the information is gathered, who compiles it, how it is protected, how consumers can access it and correct it, and how privacy is respected.”

The Banking panel first seized on the issue in the wake of the Equifax data breach in 2017, when the credit company revealed that hackers accessed the personal information of 143 million Americans.

Brown said the Equifax hack revealed that “financial and technology companies are collecting huge stockpiles of sensitive personal data, but fail over and over to protect Americans’ privacy.”  

“Congress should make it easy for consumers to find out who is collecting personal information about them, and give consumers power over how that data is used, stored and distributed,” Brown said.

Crapo and Brown asked for suggestions on how to give consumers more control of how personal data is collected and shared by financial firms and regulators, improving data breach disclosures, and making sure information obtained by credit agencies is accurate.

The chairman and ranking Democrat made a similar request for information in 2017 ahead of negotiations over rolling back rules for small banks and credit unions. A bipartisan coalition of Senate Republicans and group of moderate Democrats forged a deal on a bill after talks between Crapo and Brown fell apart.