On May 7, the Senate Banking Committee and House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held hearings on privacy rights and data collection in the digital economy. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) sent a letter for the record encouraging Congress to create a strong, national data privacy standard to address the urgent issue of data protection.

Essential recommended include:

  • Treat data privacy as a national security issue, since there have been more than 10,000 data breaches in the U.S. since 2005, compromising nearly 12 billion consumer records. Many of these breaches are being perpetrated by foreign governments, domestic organized crime syndicates, and rogue international actors using the data to fund illicit activities;
  • Fix the weak links in the system, meaning requiring all entities that hold and use consumer data be subject to strong federal data security requirements; and
  • Set a strong federal standard that preempts state laws, removing the current patchwork of various state laws, regulations and requirements that provide uneven protection and require numerous compliance resources.

“The American consumer is under attack and current federal law leaves the door open for criminals, terrorist organizations and foreign governments to steal payment and other personally identifiable information to the benefit of their illicit activity,” said CUNA head Jim Nussle. “Taking a narrow view that this debate is about Facebook, Amazon and Google would be a grave mistake. There is no way for Congress to provide consumers with the data privacy they need without enacting robust data security standards that are preemptive of state law and apply to everyone.”

Read the letter to the Senate Banking committee in full here.  Read the letter to the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce in full here.