Ex-Yahoo CEO threatened with subpoena to testify before Senate committee

Ex-Yahoo CEO threatened with subpoena to testify before Senate committee
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Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer agreed to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee in an upcoming hearing examining data breaches only after being threatened with a subpoena, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Mayer’s position is that she is testifying voluntarily, but agreed to do so “with a clear understanding that the legal recourse was imminent if she didn’t cooperate,” said one source.

The Senate Commerce Committee's release announcing the hearing and Mayer's testimony did not mention a subpoena or threat of legal action against Mayer.

The committee did not respond to requests for comment. 

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Individuals who do not appear before Congress when summoned can be held in contempt of Congress, which is a federal misdemeanor. Those found in contempt can face a maximum $1,000 fine and a maximum one-year sentence in federal prison, though actual cases of being held in contempt are extremely rare.

Mayer will appear alongside the interim CEO of Equifax, Paulino Barros, in the hearing which was announced on Wednesday and is scheduled to take place on Nov. 8

When Mayer was still CEO of Yahoo — which has now been broken up and purchased by Alibaba and Verizon — the company endured a massive cybersecurity breach in which the data of 3 billion users was compromised.

Equifax also endured a record-breaking cybersecurity breach in July in which sensitive data — including Social Security numbers — of 145.5 million Americans was compromised. Equifax’s former CEO Richard Smith, who helmed the company at the time of the breach, is also set to testify alongside Mayer and Barros.

“Massive data breaches have touched the vast majority of American consumers,” committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump contradicts CDC director on vaccine, masks Senate GOP eyes early exit MORE (R-S.D.) said in a statement announcing the hearing. “When such breaches occur, urgent action is necessary to protect sensitive personal information.”

“This hearing will give the public the opportunity to hear from those in charge, at the time major breaches occurred and during the subsequent response efforts, at two large companies who lost personal consumer data to nefarious actors,” Thune said.