“If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax …”
That’s how the FTC notification of the Equifax data breach begins. And it’s a remarkable statement. “If you have a credit report” — and who doesn’t? — your personal information was probably stolen by hackers.
I mean, 143 million people is about 44 percent of the U.S. population. This breach is huge, and it will impact just about everybody.
So what are Americans doing about it? Screaming for a government breakup? Marching on the Equifax headquarters with pitchforks? Abandoning credit checks?
And people are suing, of course. In fact, there’s a one-click lawsuit chatbot that’ll allow you to sue Equifax without a lawyer!
(That has to be some kind of landmark in chatbot empowerment. One day after the robots take over, chatbots will get an annual day off in the name of DoNotPay.)
But the most common reaction has been a shrug. The Atlantic summed it up with the title of its article, “The Banality of the Equifax Breach.”
Credit breaches have become so common that the FTC has a cartoon about it, and it starts off exactly as banally as you’d expect: “Yet another data breach is making headlines …”
And who can blame anyone for treating these data breaches as routine? According to Identity Force, this was the 24th major data breach this year. These aren’t exceptional, they’re routine.
If there’s any silver lining, it’s that breaches at important institutions like Equifax and FAFSA (an IRS tool) make retail breaches seem like small potatoes.
There’s been almost no significant response to these breaches from the U.S. government. Europe has been far more proactive, with General Data Protection Regulations about to go into effect that will require companies to have a chief data protection officer.
The best Americans can expect a week of is free credit protection from Equifax, so long they sign away their right to sue about he rest of the breech. (Correcton: Commenter Phillip Angerhofer brought to my attention that Equifax has adjusted its terms of service to make clear that consumers do not waive the right to sue by enrolling in the service. Thank you, Phillip!)
All of which begs the question at the top: Have Americans given up on privacy? Because, despite the amount of data breaches we’re seeing, American citizens don’t really seem all that fired up on the topic.
As ridiculous as the E.U policy may sound, are Americans doing enough to protect consumer data?
And if not, are U.S. brands ready to meet the more rigorous laws coming into play in the rest of the world?