Trump’s Data Breach Dilemma

by Bill McClellan on Sep 13, 2017 12:01:16 PM Government Relations

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Elizabeth Dexheimer and Jesse Hamilton over at Bloomberg just wrote an excellent article on the Equifax hack that I wanted to draw your attention to.

Entitled “Equifax’s Seismic Breach Tests Trump’s Pledge to Dismantle Rules,” it points out an important dilemma facing the Trump Administration with potential ramifications for direct response marketers.

To make a long story short, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been in the Trump Administration’s crosshairs to be dismantled in its ongoing effort to reduce red tape for business. Now, the Equifax data breach has thrown those plans into chaos. 

Effectively, the CFPB is the primary regulatory agency with oversight over Equifax and other credit reporting companies. The recent disclosure that hackers had stolen the personal information (including social security numbers) of 143 million Americans from Equifax has created a huge public outcry for action. It even has the White House conceding that tougher oversight (and regulation) is needed.  

How will the Trump administration resolve this Catch-22? On one hand, they want to cut back on financial regulation. On the other hand, their constituency is calling for a tough regulatory response.  

How President Trump decides to resolve this predicament is a million dollar question with ramifications for direct response marketers and payment processors alike. We will keep you updated on how this issue develops moving forward. However, at minimum, marketers and payment processors can expect more attention from the Federal Trade Commission, State Attorneys General, and legislative bodies on data breach issues moving forward. 

We strongly recommend that you do a privacy review with your team and explore letting a privacy attorney do an organizational audit of your practices. From a business practices perspective, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.

However, from a public policy perspective, there is an open question about whether or not the Equifax data breach will force the Trump administration to actually strengthen the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rather than work to dismantle it. Talk about unintended consequences! Washington, D.C. is a fascinating place to be right now with the amount of new developments arriving at least every week. 

At a time like this, the industry should make the CFPB a high priority point of concern moving forward.


 About the Author

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Bill McClellan serves as ERA's Vice President of Government Affairs. Prior to joining the association, Bill worked as a lobbyist at the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association, covering the state legislature and Georgia's congressional delegation. Before working for the GADA, Bill managed political campaigns at both the congressional and state constitutional levels.

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