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Klobuchar plans to focus on technology. “Pushing this new technology is going to be very important if we want to get ahead of the thieves,” she said.
Other members of the Minnesota delegation believe action is overdue.
“I’m a Target customer, and I’m concerned,” said Rick Nolan, a Democrat who represents the Eighth Congressional District. “Frankly, I’m not sure what to do. We need some protocols.”
Nolan pointed out that some electronic privacy laws were written in the mid-1980s and are woefully inadequate to deal with technology that seems to grow more sophisticated each week. He believes his colleagues in the GOP-run House will agree.
Since the Target theft came to light Dec. 19, Nolan said he feels “much more momentum and strongly held concern that transcends party lines.”
That unity of purpose would stand in contrast to years of partisan differences that foiled attempts to pass data security laws. “This could be a bipartisan issue,” said First District Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat who talked of using technologies developed by U.S. security agencies to help private companies protect customer information. “We are incredibly vulnerable. To not do anything could harm the economy.”
Still, it’s hard to gauge how deep the bipartisan spirit goes. No Minnesota Republican members of the House responded to a Star Tribune request to discuss the possibility of new data security laws.
Retailers and credit card companies have lobbied against past attempts to impose stricter regulations.
But Rep. Keith Ellison, the Democrat who represents Minneapolis, where Target is headquartered, says he has “gotten a sense” from the company that it is open to efforts to improve credit and debit card technology.
“We need to work with retailers to get a systemwide buy-in to move forward,” Ellison said. “At the end of the day, it will be expensive to upgrade. But it is cheaper than getting ripped off.”
Jim Spencer • 202-383-6123