Madigan testifies before Congress about data breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus

By Bryan Cohen | Feb 7, 2014


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan testified on Wednesday before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee about her inquiries into widespread data breaches recently reported by retailers that affected millions of American consumers.

During her testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, Madigan called on Congress to take immediate action at the federal level to more effectively protect the personal information of consumers.

"Over the past decade, we have faced an epidemic of data breaches that has affected almost every American and has inflicted billions of dollars of damage to our economy," Madigan said. "The recent breaches have served as a wakeup call that government and the private sector need to take serious, meaningful action to curb this growing threat to our financial security."

Madigan and the Connecticut Attorney General's Office are leading a multi-state inquiry into the recent data breaches at Michaels Stores, Neiman Marcus and Target. Since 2005, there were more than 4,000 data breaches nationally with 733 million records compromised.

Madigan said that past inquiries into data breaches revealed that companies repeatedly failed to take basic steps to protect the information of Illinois consumers. Such companies allegedly maintained consumer data without encryption, retained data longer than necessary and failed to install updated security patches for known software vulnerabilities.

Madigan urged Congress to adopt federal standards that delete consumer data as it is no longer needed, adopt reasonable data security practices, only collect information from consumers that is required for legitimate business needs and notify consumers in a timely manner when a data breach occurs. She also called on members of the subcommittee to authorize a federal agency to look into large, sophisticated data breaches.

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