Financial services, retail groups form cybersecurity partnership

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:47am EST

WASHINGTON Feb 13 (Reuters) - Banks and retail groups announced on Thursday they are joining together to work on cybersecurity issues, a sign the groups may be moving past recent squabbles over who deserves the blame for data breaches.

The Financial Services Roundtable, Retail Industry Leaders Association and several other trade associations said the new partnership would focus on sharing more information about cyber threats, developing technology to protect consumers and discussing areas of disagreement between banks and merchants.

"Exploring avenues for increased information sharing and collaborating on innovative technologies and safeguarding data will be critical in defending against common enemies," Tim Pawlenty, chief executive of the Financial Services Roundtable, said in a statement.

Bank and retail industry groups have been at odds for years over cyber issues, but the recent data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus made the dispute more prominent.

Financial services groups want retailers to bear more of the costs of replacing cards after breaches occur. Retailers say banks have been slow to adopt new, more secure debit card technology.

U.S. lawmakers have considered weighing in on a dispute over how consumers are notified of data theft. But issues of how to communicate across industries and settle who pays when a breach happens are likely up to the firms to sort out.

"The solution needs to be through cooperation," Jennifer Platt, vice president of federal operations at the International Council of Shopping Centers, said in a statement.

"We hope that this partnership will be a constructive step in helping to create a pathway to improved consumer confidence," she said.

The trade associations said they would form working groups made of their experts, representatives from member companies and others. They will also focus on thefts that do not involve debit or credit cards and on how to protect the growing area of mobile payments.

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