Senators push to better protect victims of OPM hack

As the 22 million victims of the Office of Personnel Management cyberattack brace for the consequences, the four senators who represent the largest concentration of federal workers are stepping in to bolster their protection.

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) on Thursday introduced a bill to extend the identity-theft protections that OPM is offering victims. They introduced their bill just hours after OPM substantially increased the total victim count.

Hackers reportedly linked to the Chinese government stole more than 21 million Social Security numbers, 1.1 million fingerprints, and more than 19 million background-check files, including nearly every file produced since 2000.

“Each week OPM has come out with a new story with new facts. This erodes confidence going forward that the federal government will be able to protect federal employees whose personal data—Social Security numbers, dates of birth, fingerprints—has been stolen,” Mikulski said in a joint statement. “I demand answers and assurances for them. And I demand a far more robust action plan for their protection. That’s what this bill is about.”

The Maryland and Virginia senators’ bill would require lifetime identity-theft coverage and insurance of at least $5 million per person.

“This adjustment to what OPM has previously offered more adequately addresses the egregious nature of this federal cyberattack,” the bill’s authors said in a statement.

OPM’s current plan is to offer three years of what it calls a “comprehensive suite of monitoring and protection services,” including identity-theft insurance, credit monitoring, and fraud monitoring.

OPM

On Thursday, Warner became the first Senate Democrat to call for OPM Director Katherine Archuleta to resign. “I strongly urge the administration to choose new management with proven abilities to address a crisis of this magnitude with an appropriate sense of urgency and accountability,” he said in a statement.

Archuleta resigned on Friday.

Photo via Tom Taker/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III 

Eric Geller

Eric Geller

Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.