CONGRESSMAN CHRIS VAN HOLLEN
Maryland’s 8th District
For Immediate Release
July 13, 2015
CONTACT: Bridgett Frey – 202-225-5384
Ian Jannetta – 202-225-1527
Van Hollen on Fox 5: Government Must Do Much Better Job Protecting Information
Washington, DC – Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen joined Fox 5’s Steve Chenevey to discuss the latest on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach and his legislative effort to ensure all those affected have lifetime identity theft protection. The transcript of the interview is below:
STEVE CHENEVEY, WTTG: Questions still remain this morning after that massive government hacking scandal and data breach. Last week we learned more than 22 million people had their data stolen in a cyber attack on the agency. It wasn’t just current government employees either – friends, family, past employees, contractors. Shortly after that announcement, OPM director Kathleen Archuleta resigned. So, where do we go from here, how do prevent something like this from happening again, what really happened? Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen is here with us this morning to talk about that. Good to see you.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Good to see you.
CHENEVEY: Hope you had a good weekend. You’ve kind of been ahead of the curve on this one and you’ve been calling for better protections and actually pointing out some weaknesses in the system along the way. Did it come as surprise to you when this all came out and the scope of this?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, it wasn’t a total surprise because we knew OPM was not investing adequately in cyber security. There had also a report that was done by an independent group. But now the challenge is to make sure that these 22 million people get notified right away. Most of them have not been notified yet. They need to be assured that they’ll get identity theft protection. I’ve introduced legislation along with Eleanor Holmes Norton to provide lifetime identity theft protection for these individuals whose data was breached through no fault of their own.
CHENEVEY: Well, and not just the protection now, but maybe better notification, too, since apparently one of the things that led to Katherine Archuleta’s downfall was the revelation that this actually came out months ago and it took awhile for people to realize their data had been compromised.
VAN HOLLEN: This is a moving target. Originally they had the 4 million individuals whose data had been compromised, and then apparently in the course of that investigation they discovered that it was much larger, 22 million people. So we need to immediately assure those people that they’re going to be covered. OPM has said that they’re going to cover the people whose information was breached for about three years. We believe that since this was no fault of their own, that they should get lifetime protection, and then obviously we’ve got to get to the bottom of the cyber security thing. This is a huge breach, very sensitive information. The government has got to do a much better job at all these agencies.
CHENEVEY: How do you do that, though? This is a new era when it comes to protecting our country and our information now, not our physical beings, and there are some people who said, look, the government, OPM, had systems that were state of the art a few years ago, but this technology changes like that. How do you stay ahead of the bad guys?
VAN HOLLEN: It does change. I think it’s really important now that we make sure that the information that our security agencies have with respect to how you track, monitor, and block these intrusions is now shared more with the civilian agencies. We have lots of expertise in the Defense Department. We obviously have expertise at places like NSA. I think that expertise needs to be applied more to the civilian side right now.
CHENEVEY: Right. Did you get a notification that your information was compromised?
VAN HOLLEN: I did not.
CHENEVEY: I know we heard from some of your colleagues. Have you heard how widespread it was among your colleagues?
VAN HOLLEN: I have not heard. What they’ve told people is that, if you’ve had a background check from the year 2000 forward, you’re very likely to have had your information exposed. Also, there were other records exposed, and some of the family members of people whose information had been presented have also been exposed.
CHENEVEY: When it comes to members of our military that are affected and those who work for this government, it seems to take a little different tenor when it comes to that.
VAN HOLLEN: Absolutely, and people are encouraged to go to www.identitytheft.gov to learn some of the tips necessary to detect whether your information has been compromised.
CHENEVEY: Before you leave, I wanted to ask you, because Melanie Alnwick is working on this story. When it comes to Jefferson Davis highway running through Virginia. You’re in Maryland, but I know you were also very outspoken when it came to the to the Confederate flag itself and its place in the Capitol. What are your thoughts about how things have progressed over the last couple of weeks when it comes to that?
VAN HOLLEN: I think this country needs to take close look now at the names and symbols of things that are in public places. And I do believe that if they’re in public places we should be changing those names. I think that there’s an appropriate place for those things in a museum, where you’re talking about history. But if you’re talking about public dollars in play, then I think we need to do what South Carolina did. Take it down. That’s what South Carolina did.
CHENEVEY: Seems like more and more support there as that conversation continues. Again, the website for identity.gov?
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, identitytheft.gov.
CHENEVEY: identitytheft.gov. Check that out if you’ve been affected. In the meantime, you’re working on a bill to get lifetime protection.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes.
CHENEVEY: Great. Always good to see you.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to see you, thanks.