“My view is you put the consumer first in these things.”

By on October 13, 2017 in Featured News, News

Walden Talks about Equifax Data Breach & Prospects for Action this Year

WASHINGTON, DC – “My view is you put the consumer first in these things.”

That’s what U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (OR-2) had to say about the Equifax data breach and the prospects that Congress might take up legislation to address the problem this year.

Walden serves as Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.  Appearing yesterday morning before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society, he was asked about the data breach and the hearing that the Committee held on the issue this past week.

“This is a huge issue,” the Oregon Republican stated.  “It wasn’t a run on the bank — it was a run on your data.  To quote the immortal words of my former colleague and friend Lynn Westmoreland, ‘You can’t fix stupid.’ And he was right. This deal as near as I can tell — and I don’t mean to throw a rock — but for heaven’s sake, the CEO admits it was human error. How do you do that in today’s world with everybody’s data?”

A 10-term veteran of Congress who ran his own small business before coming to Washington, Walden took the reins of the Energy & Commerce Committee this past January.  He spoke about the October 3rd hearing that the E&C Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection held to look into the Equifax data breach, and some of the issues – and principles — facing lawmakers as they chart a path forward in that regard.

“The law already says you’ve got to maintain security of data,” the veteran lawmaker observed. “I’m not going to prescribe the flow chart in law on how you should communicate with your own organization. Having said that, my view is you put the consumer first in these things.”

“I think the business industries need to figure this out, or we will.  We’re going to have to.  And I don’t know what that is. So you’re going to see us continue to probe and poke and do our thing to look into it, to try to come to terms. The best thing that could happen is for the industries involved to figure it out and bring us something that looks like a workable solution.

“In multiple hearings I did over the years on cyber security, every witness on every panel said, ‘Please don’t overreact and lock us into a technology or a process, because you will cause us to misallocate our capital and resources and the bad guys will be around whatever you do in a heartbeat.’ So this has to be something that can ebb and flow and evolve.  But people want someone held accountable when they’ve done nothing wrong and have to deal with the problem. So, we’re working on it.”

In addition to talking about the Equifax data breach at yesterday’s Ripon Society breakfast discussion, Walden also talked about some of the other priorities his Committee is working on, and the amount of legislation the panel has approved so far this year.

“We’ve passed close to 50 bills now on the House floor,” he stated.  “Of those, 85 percent were bipartisan. So the work that Fred [Upton] certainly did and I am trying to do is to move quality legislation that attracts bipartisan support so we can solve the problems this country faces. We’ve passed bills to reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration.  The legislation could’ve been somewhat controversial and attracted lots of different amendments.  It did not. We ended up not only reauthorizing the FDA, but modernizing it.”

Walden also stated that the Committee has been focused on ways to strengthen America’s energy security, and noted that Energy Secretary Rick Perry was scheduled to testify before the panel later in the day.

“We’ve spent a lot of time this year looking at the energy markets and the electric grid,” he noted.  “What’s a competitive electric grid look like in this century?  What’s a Department of Energy look like in this century?  If you think about things the way they were when the Department of Energy was created 40 years ago, it was a much different energy environment. Whether you’re talking about oil and gas in America, or you’re talking about electricity and supply, or you’re talking about cyber security and things like EMP.  And now with the growth of renewable energy — how does that interface with the grid?  We’ve had a pretty good series of hearings looking at the energy grid on safety, security, reliability, and the future.  That work continues today with Secretary Perry before the committee.”

Pointing out that the Committee voted to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission for the first time since 1990, Walden said he believes that government oversight will be one of the most important functions of the panel in the coming years.

“We have an obligation as the authorizing committee to look at the functions of government,” he declared.  “I was pleased yesterday that there was a bipartisan vote in the subcommittee to really look at some things we could do to improve the operations in the [FCC] itself. I’ve asked Joe Barton to do the same thing with the Department of Energy — work closely with Rick Perry. What’s a 21st century Department look like?  It’s the old small business guy in me, I guess. You’ve got to get the structure right.  We also need to spend time on the policy. We can walk and chew gum at the same time and do both.”

To view Walden’s remarks before The Ripon Society’s breakfast discussion yesterday morning, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

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