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Washington league vows to fight banks on breach bill
OLYMPIA, Wash. (2/5/08)--The Washington Credit Union League is taking on the state's bankers over the bankers' sudden opposition to two companion state bills that would protect consumers from financial fraud and identity theft via data breaches. Supporters of the bills--Senate Bill 6425 and House Bill 2838--were surprised to learn that after negotiating four successive drafts with supporters of the bills, bankers began working Jan. 28 in the legislature's back halls to kill the bills in committee. Those attempts so far have been unsuccessfully "thanks to legislators who see the epidemic of identity theft a priority that must be addressed," said the league "Washington's bankers seemingly have set their priorities for the legislative session: retail and business customers are worth more to protect than ordinary people, said the league in a press release. "This is a real David vs. Goliath story," said league President John Annaloro. "Credit unions spent over a million dollars in 2007 protecting Washington consumers following the massive breach of credit card data by TJX (Cos.) "The crux of the state's credit unions' disagreement with bankers on this issue is whether data breachers like TJX should be held financially accountable for the costs that result from their negligence," Annalora said, adding, "Consumer identity theft must be stopped." The list of opponents to the bill has grown the past few weeks. The bill now faces opposition from retailers, restaurants, grocers, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Washington Bankers Association, the league said. Opposition from the bankers came as a surprise. The league vowed to continue to fight for important consumer protection legislation on behalf of all Washingtonians. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Brendan Williams (D-22) and Sen. Rosa Franklin (D-29), gives financial institutions the ability to hold accountable negligent businesses that handle and store unencrypted sensitive consumer information, including credit and debit numbers.


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