Saying that the bill also is intended to restore trust and privacy, Schatz maintained, "You would think that, when it comes to cybersecurity, companies would put people over profit, but as we've seen with Equifax, that is not always the case."
In the wake of a massive Equifax breach that left sensitive information on 143 million consumers at risk, a bill introduced Friday by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, would give consumers more control over their credit and personal data and help prevent future incidents.
The Freedom from Equifax Exploitation (FREE) Act would also put strictures in place to keep credit monitoring companies from profiting off of the breach in part by preventing them from selling information during a credit freeze.
"Credit reporting agencies like Equifax make billions of dollars collecting and selling personal data about consumers without their consent, and then make consumers pay if they want to stop the sharing of their own data," Warren said in a release. "Our bill gives consumers more control over their own personal data and prohibits companies like Equifax from charging consumers for freezing and unfreezing access to their credit files. Passing this bill is a first step toward reforming the broken credit reporting industry."
Congress, he said, "must act to protect consumer privacy, along with people's ability to get a loan, to buy a car, or even get a new job. There's a lot at stake here."
Attorney Mark D. Grossman called the bill "long overdue" and noted if credit bureaus are going to collect personal data without permission "and set up a system that encourages identity theft, at the very least, they should be required to provide free credit freezing services."