Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) introduced the Promoting Responsible Oversight of Transactions and Examinations of Credit Technology (PROTECT) Act on Thursday in response to the Equifax data breach announced last month that affected more than 100 million Americans. The breach of the credit agency left hackers able to access people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers.
“The Equifax data breach has harmed my constituents in western North Carolina and Americans across the country,” McHenry said in a statement. “It exposed a major shortcoming in our nation’s cybersecurity laws and Congress must act. The bill I’ve introduced today takes an important first step in providing meaningful reforms to help Americans who have been impacted by this breach. It is focused on prevention, protection, and prohibition.”
The bill would also require Equifax, Experian PLC, and TransUnion–the three major credit firms–to submit to regular federal cybersecurity reviews, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The rules for no longer using Social Security numbers would go into effect in 2020.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration signaled that it was considering replacing Social Security numbers as the main method of verifying American’s identities.
Some of the ideas for replacements being considered include separate retirement benefits identifiers and a “modern cryptographic identifier,” such as public and private encryption keys.
Rob Joyce, special assistant to the president and White House cybersecurity coordinator, told attendees of a summit earlier this month that the problem with Social Security numbers is that the cannot be easily changed if they become compromised in a cybersecurity breach.