Equifax hack may shake up US consumer data laws

From CNET: In early October, Congress grilled Equifax's former CEO, Richard Smith, in four separate committee hearings about how his credit reporting agency put the consumer records of over 145 million people in jeopardy.

We'll be feeling the effects for "essentially a hundred years, until everybody is dead that was exposed by this breach," said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Lawmakers are now trying to capitalize on consumer outrage by working to pass bills that would make Equifax and other companies like it more accountable to regular people like you and me, whose data they collect for profit. Right now your rights to learn about the theft of your data and your ability to freeze your credit report depend on the state you live in. Lawmakers aim to create federal laws that increase your rights and make them the same, no matter where you live in the US.

The bills are focused on single issues, and they don't let you prevent credit reporting agencies or anyone else from collecting your data in the first place. So if we're lucky, our privacy may improve in the wake of the Equifax breach. But just a little.

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