If Firms Can't Protect Data, We Shouldn't Let Them Collect It

Farhad Manjoo writes that Equifax is unlikely to face consequences over breach
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2017 4:41 PM CDT
Updated Sep 10, 2017 5:07 PM CDT
Equifax Shouldn't Get Away Scot-Free After Breach. It Will
A file photo of Equifax offices in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

The way tech writer Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times sees it, Equifax had "one job"—to protect the mountains of sensitive financial data it has collected on Americans. As news of the recent mammoth breach made clear, the company failed at that one job, and the consequences could be all too real for individuals exposed in the hack. But if you're expecting the company to face harsh consequences, forget it, writes Manjoo. "Even after one of the gravest breaches in history, no one is really in a position to stop Equifax from continuing to do business as usual," he writes. Two federal agencies, the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, have jurisdiction over Equifax, but neither is expected to do much.

One reason being cited is that Equifax is one of only three such credit-reporting companies, and whittling that number to two would not only hurt competition but make the surviving pair even bigger targets. The sad truth is that we live in the age of "big data" now, and even though the hacks keep getting bigger and more dangerous, regulators won't impose a "corporate death penalty" over weak security. "But if we are now conceding that hacks just happen and no one can stop them—well, here’s a crazy thought: Maybe let’s not allow any company to house all this data," writes Manjoo. Read his full take here. (More Equifax stories.)

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