The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is coming down on Equifax Inc with the strength of an angry kitten. The credit bureau is reportedly expected to pay around $650 million after they exposed the private information of more than 145 million customers in the summer of 2017. The information included names, addresses, driver license numbers, and Social Security numbers.
Equifax waited nearly two months before reporting one of the largest security breaches in U.S. history. Hackers were able to access a security flaw that the company knew of but failed to address. These details are highly sensitive as Mark Begor, who was named Equifax CEO in 2018, admitted recently while being questioned.
.@RepKatiePorter to Equifax CEO: “if you agree that exposing information like what exists in your credit reports creates harm…WHY are your lawyers arguing in federal court that there was no injury & no harm created by your data breach?” pic.twitter.com/fNFUCe4uRY
— AFR (@RealBankReform) February 26, 2019
Equifax Fine is Large, but Not for Equifax
While $650 million may seem like a steep price, it’s not so harsh when you consider that Equifax has a net worth of over $16.5 billion.
Should be put out of business. These fines are laughable. https://t.co/TfEukVNMPf
— David Carroll 🦅 (@profcarroll) July 20, 2019
Federal Consumer Program Director of the U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), Ed Mierzwinski, called this a “sweetheart deal” for a company that “failed to do its basic job.”
“Failure to protect privacy has a real harm; we think Equifax should have paid real money, not “just go-away” money, and promised real changes to its sloppy last-century practices.”
1/4 Sweetheart deal: 2 years ago @Equifax lost the Social Security Numbers of 148M consumers. I tell @nytimes a rumored $650M settlement of ALL(?) claims is not enough because our financial DNA is like gold & #privacy harms could still occur… https://t.co/KFWSCyAXzT
— Ed Mierzwinski (@edmpirg) July 20, 2019
Facebook Brushes off Record Fine
News of the Equifax deal comes days after the FTC reached a record-breaking deal with another massive, careless company. Facebook will reportedly pay the FTC $5 billion in due to various data leaks, one that may have affected the last presidential election.
Cambridge Analytica stands out as the most egregious. The political data firm, hired by Trump’s 2016 campaign team, gained access to the private information of over 50 million users.
“We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”
While $5 billion is a record fine, it hardly seems to be affecting the social media giant. Facebook reported over $15 billion in revenue last quarter alone. Their market value rose by more than $5 billion after news of the fine broke.
Let’s be honest: this settlement is a victory for Facebook. Just look to the markets. In the first 15 minutes after the settlement was reported, Facebook’s market value went up by more than $5 billion.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 12, 2019
— rat king (@MikeIsaac) July 12, 2019
Bitcoin and Blockchain Are the Answer
While Congress deliberates over Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, Libra, some lawmakers are starting to see the value of bitcoin. Financial Services Committee Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) recently called bitcoin an “unstoppable force.” Congressman Warren Davidson noted, “there’s bitcoin and then there’s shitcoin.”
Hackers, thieves, and manipulators seem to be evolving faster than the corporations they’re targeting. The need for a new paradigm remains strong. While cryptocurrency exchanges have their own work to do regarding security and safety, the technology behind bitcoin has proven sound over the past 10 years.
And as our identities become more digital, they become more vulnerable to attack and mishandling. Corporations should no longer hold the keys for our private information. Decentralized identity companies are on the rise. Some companies like IBM and Microsoft are starting to see the value of blockchain technology in identity management. It’s time to realize our own true identities as people who have the capability to control their data.