After the Breach, ChoicePoint Works to Rebuild Its Image and Security

Data broker mitigates its risk with voluntary actions, preempting a legislative response


While she wouldn't concede mistakes were made by ChoicePoint employees, DiBattiste said the company isn't making any excuses for what happened.

"Is the company sorry for what happened? Absolutely," she said. "Is the company trying to move forward and be an industry leader? Absolutely. Don't think for a minute we're not sorry for what happened."

The public is keeping a watchful eye on ChoicePoint's progress and that of other companies that maintain personal information. In the months since the ChoicePoint disclosure, other companies have also reported data breaches, including Bank of America Corp. and payment-processor CardSystems Solutions Inc. of Atlanta. The CardSystems incident left 40 million credit and debit card accounts vulnerable to hackers.

The ChoicePoint breach has fueled consumer advocates' calls for federal oversight of the loosely regulated data-brokering business, and Capitol Hill hearings were held on the issue. The company also is a defendant in several lawsuits and complaints arising from the breach. Authorities say at least 750 people were defrauded in the scam.

Lawmakers in Washington, too, are keeping an eye on ChoicePoint.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he believes ChoicePoint is moving in the right direction, but only tougher laws involving the sale and distribution of personal information will provide consumers the safeguards they need.

"On the one hand it's good they have made some reforms," Markey said. "But ChoicePoint is still providing data such as Social Security numbers that I believe should not be bought and sold as commodities."

Markey noted that ChoicePoint's actions so far have been voluntary.

"They and other similar firms could reverse course," he said. "We need new federal legislation in this area, not merely voluntary policies that can be abandoned once public concerns have subsided."