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McCaskill Keeps up Fight for Consumers, Tells Brokers who Sell Personal Data: ‘You Should be Liable if Your Business Enables Identity Theft’

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NEWS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF U.S. SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL

McCaskill Keeps up Fight for Consumers, Tells Brokers who Sell Personal Data: ‘You Should be Liable if Your Business Enables Identity Theft’

Senator grills industry executive on identity theft case under investigation by Secret Service

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, who this year has led the charge on a wide range of consumer protection issues, used a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday to grill a company executive on the practices in the ‘data broker’ industry—an industry that collects, compiles and sells consumer information for marketing purposes.

“I do not see this industry as evil—but I do see some desperate need for Congress to look at how consumers can get this information and what kind of transparency there is,” said McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate subcommittee in charge of consumer protection.

Much of McCaskill’s questioning of witnesses focused on reports alleging that a subsidiary of the data broker Experian sold data to an alleged identity theft operation. In that case the company had received numerous payments from an individual in Singapore who was allegedly using data obtained from Experian’s subsidiary to facilitate identity theft. The individual engaged in identity theft was indicted in federal court earlier this year. However, neither Experian nor its subsidiary have been held accountable for its role in enabling the criminal activity to occur. The sale of information began before Experian purchased the subsidiary Court Ventures but allegedly continued for a year after the sale.

“I understand this was not a crime that began under your watch, but you did buy the company and you did keep getting the wire transfers from Singapore—and the only reason you ever questioned them is because the Secret Service knocked on your door,” McCaskill said to Tom Hadley, representing Experian. “I don’t know how long these wire transfers would have gone on until you caught (this person), but I don’t have confidence that it would have stopped at all.”

McCaskill called for Congress to pass legislation that would provide greater transparency for consumers about the information data brokers hold on them and hold companies liable for negligent behavior that results in harm to consumers.

Today’s hearing also included testimony from the Federal Trade Commission, as well as academic experts and those with expertise in consumer privacy and marketing.

Read more about McCaskill’s fight to protect American consumers, HERE

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