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Letter to the Honorable Jon Leibowitz, Federal Trade Commission, Chairman

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the Chairman to investigate the recent data breach of Epsilon, an online marketing firm that handles email lists for companies such as Target, Best Buy, Walgreens, and Citi Group.

Pryor said the information that was stolen is likely limited to e-mail addresses and possibly names. However, he is concerned this information alone will lead to a surge of phishing attacks -- emails disguised to be from a legitimate business but are intended to steal more personal information, including account numbers, usernames, passwords or Social Security numbers.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, Pryor has worked to strengthen data security, breach notification, and identify theft prevention. Last August, he introduced the Data Security and Breach Notification Act which would require businesses and non-profits that store consumers' personal information to establish strong security features to safeguard sensitive data, alert customers when data has been breached, and provide affected individuals with the tools to protect their credit and finances.

April 14, 2011

The Honorable Jon Leibowitz
Chairman
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Chairman Leibowitz:

I'm writing to express my concern regarding the recent data breach by the marketing firm Epsilon. This breach underscores the importance of requiring strong data security safeguards and data breach notification standards of which I have been a long-time advocate through legislation, hearings and other work within the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, which I chair, on the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

As you know, I have recognized risks to consumers posed by massive data breaches and I have repeatedly encourages and supported better consumer protections in this domain. Last August I introduced, with the support of Chairman Rockefeller, S.3742, the Data Security and Breach Notification Act. Our bill would require businesses and nonprofit organizations that store consumers' personal information to put in place strong security features to safeguard sensitive data, alert consumers when this data has been breached, and provide affected consumers with the tools they need to protect their credit and finances.

As you know, I have recognized risks to consumers posed by massive data breaches and I have repeatedly encourages and supported better consumer protections in this domain. Last August I introduced, with the support a of Chairman Rockefeller, S.3742, the Data Security and Breach Notification Act. Our bill would require businesses and nonprofit organizations that store consumers' personal information to put in place strong security eatures to safeguard sensitive data, alert consumers when this data has been breaches, and provide affects consumers with the tools they need to protect their credit and finances.

Importantly, our bill predicts the need to provide to the Commission flexibility in considering the universe of consumers' personal information covered - anticipating potential changes in technology or practices while not unreasonably impending interstate commerce.

Some news articles have suggested that the Epsilon breach could lead to phishing attacks where consumers are targeted by deceptive e-mails that purport to come from legitimate businesses, but in reality, are designed by theives to steal information such as passwords or account numbers. Malicious activity of this nature should not be tolerated.

I encourage you to investigate the Epsilon data breach as soon as possible to determine whether Epsilon's data security procedures and actions post-breach are consistent with its obligations under the federal Trade Commission Act or other laws you enforce.

As always, I am appreciative of you and your staff's dutiful efforts to protect American consumers across the country from fraud and other unfair deceptive trade practices. Your continued leadership - especially in this difficult economy - is critical. If you have any questions, please contact Maria Petrini of my staff at 202-224-8079.

Most respectfully,

Mark Pryor, Chairman
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection,
Product Safety and Insurance


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