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Hill Hot Over OPM Data Hack

House Energy & Commerce Committee leadership joined a growing chorus of legislators concerned about the hack of personal information from millions of federal employees revealed this week by the Office of Personnel Management.

“Whether in the federal government or the private sector, personal records and sensitive data are increasingly becoming the target of theft, tampering, or misuse," said Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) ion a joint statement. "In this latest breach of U.S. government records, we are reminded that we must always be vigilant and proactive in protecting these materials,” said Upton and Pallone. “There are serious questions raised by the breach of government systems, echoing and adding to the questions our committee has been exploring in the wake of other high-profile breaches and security gaps,” they said.

“Cyberspace has been, and will continue to be, an engine of economic opportunity. The committee will therefore continue its efforts to find ways to protect and empower consumers against the ever-growing threat of cyberattacks and address these threats without jeopardizing the fundamental benefits that cyberspace provides,” they said.

Pallone was an equal opportunity cybersecurity attack commenter. He also teamed up with E&C Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee ranking member Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade ranking member Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to issue a separate statement.

“There are now two types of Americans: those whose data has been subject to a breach, and those whose data will be breached in the future," the said. “We will continue looking at ways to protect personal data from hackers, but we also need to craft new ways to make it harder for thieves and hackers to use personal information when it is stolen.  It is not enough to simply compensate workers or consumers with a ‘free year’ of credit monitoring after their data gets pilfered.  As we figure out how the federal government can fully protect our data, we must ensure that the private sector is doing its part to safeguard personal information as well."

In the joint Democratic statement, they called on Upton to schedule briefings "immediately." There was no mention of hearings in the joint Upton/Pallone statement and the E&C agenda sent out late Friday did not have such a hearing scheduled.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.