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Lawmakers Talk Cybersecurity and Regulatory Reform at GAC
Thursday, March 12, 2015 6:30 AM

Lawmakers at the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference spoke about ongoing work to improve cybersecurity protections in the wake of numerous breaches at credit unions, banks, retailers, and others over the past several years.

"The government has a place here, but it should be more of a facilitator," Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, said on Monday. "We need the ability to exchange information when we identify threats and we need to be able to do that without risk of triggering some kind of liability for those organizations."

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) said financial institutions shouldn't be on the hook when other businesses are attacked and financial information is stolen. Credit unions and banks alike have argued that Target, Home Depot, and other retailers should foot the bill when their systems are compromised.

"When [retailers] have a breach and those cards get compromised, customers don't blame them; they blame the financial institution, even though you had nothing to do with it whatsoever," Peters said on Tuesday. "So that is wrong, and not only do you get blamed, but you get left holding the bill and the cost associated with that."

Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle continued to discuss the need for tweaks to the Dodd-Frank Act to reduce regulatory burdens on smaller financial institutions.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the top Democrat on the Banking Committee and a senior member of the Finance Committee, said, "Congress needs to consider ways to ease some of those regulations on the smallest credit unions and community banks." Brown also noted that he would continue to oppose more sweeping changes, like calls to overhaul the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Legislation could also extend beyond the financial reform law. Several lawmakers pointed to a popular bipartisan bill permitting financial institutions to send privacy notices to customers only when the disclosures change, along with a separate measure to raise the cap on credit union member business lending.

Whether Democrats and Republicans can find common ground to work on regulatory relief remains to be seen, though interest from both parties is at least a first step.

"A number of what we call technical correction bills that were introduced in the last Congress and we were actually able to pass out of our committee and actually some of those passed out on the House floor," Neugebauer added. "We're going to be bringing those back up, we're hoping now with a little bit different configuration in the Senate."