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Retailers, Banks Target Each Other in Data-Security Blame Game

Retailers, Banks Target Each Other in Data-Security Blame Game
Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Any corporate scandal reaches a stage at which all affected parties descend on Washington for a rousing round of finger-pointing. That time has come in the debate over consumer data security that was set off in December when hackers accessed the personal information of up to 110 million Target customers.

A top Target executive, federal regulators, and trade groups for stores and banks will testify at a series of hearings throughout the week as lawmakers consider what they can do to keep our credit-card and social security numbers from being stolen and auctioned to the highest bidders. A major dynamic will be the retail and financial industries assigning blame to one another. The theme of shared responsibility features prominently in prepared testimony submitted in advance by representatives from industry groups. While at first glance this can sound like a kumbaya moment, it’s also a polite way of saying that other folks haven’t been holding up their ends of the bargain.