News that Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has put the agency’s investigation into Equifax on ice has sparked renewed outrage among Democrats on Capitol Hill.
A Reuters report, which used anonymous sources, claimed on Sunday that Mulvaney “has pulled back from a full-scale probe of how Equifax Inc failed to protect the personal data of millions of consumers.”
Democrats are now suspicious that Republicans are delaying efforts to crack down on the credit reporting industry and secure consumer data in the wake of the massive Equifax data breach, which took place in September. The breach exposed the sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, of 145.5 million Americans.
According to The Hill:
A group of 32 Senate Democrats responded to the Reuters report by demanding answers from the agency about the progress of its investigation.
The CFPB declined to comment on their letter, instead pointing to an earlier statement from Mulvaney senior adviser John Czwartacki.
“Acting Director Mulvaney takes data security issues very seriously,” Czwartacki said. “Under his direction, the CFPB is working with our partners across government on Equifax’s data breach and response. We are committed to enforcing the law. As policy, we do not confirm or deny enforcement or supervisory matters.”
Democrats have kept up the heat on Equifax and other credit reporting agencies in the wake of the hack, using the breach to call for reforms.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also released a report this week on the breach, excoriating Equifax for a lack of safeguards and calling on Congress to crack down on credit reporting agencies.
Last month, Warren and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced legislation that would make it easier for the Federal Trade Commission to police credit bureaus’ data security practices.
And in November, Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee renewed their push for a law requiring companies to notify consumers of data breaches within 30 days of discovering them.
Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith faced four congressional hearings last October, with members of both parties furious about about a breach that had exposed sensitive personal data for nearly half the country.
Despite the outrage from lawmakers, though, there’s been little movement in Congress towards cracking down on the industry or improving data security practices.