10.09.19

Cassidy Seeks to Uncover China’s Access to Americans’ Data

WASHINGTON–Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), is requesting information from major credit card companies and data brokers in an effort to better protect Americans’ privacy and prevent foreign entities or potentially bad actors from gaining access to their personal information.

“Information sold by data brokers goes relatively unregulated in the United States. The possibility that actors with ill intentions can buy Americans’ data to engage in nefarious activities against the United States is concerning,” wrote Dr. Cassidy. “The intent of this letter is to better understand this possibility in an attempt to better protect the privacy of the American people. 

The full text of the letters are here and here and below:

Dear Acxiom, Nielsen, Equifax,

Information sold by data brokers goes relatively unregulated in the United States. The possibility that actors with ill intentions can buy Americans’ data to engage in nefarious activities against the United States is concerning. My interest lies in better understanding this possibility in an attempt to better protect the privacy of the American people. With your company’s help, I would like some clarity on the questions listed below. 

Questions:

1. In your opinion, can the Chinese government or a Chinese state-sponsored company have access to American’s data without having to purchase it? This is to say, could such access be developed or purchased from the same public sources as you do? 
2. Has the Chinese government or Chinese state-sponsored company or any entity which could be reasonably thought to represent one of the above, purchased access on a permanent or temporary basis to data from your company in the past or are they doing so presently?
3. When you sell information on Americans, do you restrict the re-sale of this information?
4. Is there anything else pertinent to understanding the risk of Chinese or other foreign government purchase of data regarding Americans that Congress should know? 

Thank you in advance of your reply. If a reply could be given within 4 weeks, that would be appreciated. 

Respectfully,

________

Dear American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Discover,

As a U.S Senator ensuring the security of constituent’s personal information is a priority. China has waged a targeted disinformation campaign in the recent Hong Kong protest; the impact and danger of data is increasingly apparent. Your company collects and sells the data of millions of Americans. For these reasons, I am concerned if your company sells or allow access to the personal data of Americans to the Chinese government or a Chinese state sponsored company. With your company’s help, I would like some clarity on the questions listed below. 

Questions:

  1. Has the Chinese government or Chinese state-sponsored company or any entity which could be reasonably thought to represent one of the above, purchased access on a permanent or temporary basis to data from your company in the past or are they doing so presently?
  2. When you sell information on Americans, do you restrict the re-sale of this information? 
  3. Is there anything else pertinent to understanding the risk of Chinese or other foreign government purchase of data regarding Americans that Congress should know?

Thank you in advance of your reply. If a reply could be given within 4 weeks, that would be appreciated. 

Respectfully, 

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