By Mark Hosenball and Ros Krasny
WASHINGTON Jan 14 Two U.S. senators were
seeking answers on Tuesday from the chief executive of Target
Corp about the company's response to the hacking of
credit and debit cards of millions of its customers during the
holiday shopping season.
"We ask that Target's information-security officials provide
a briefing to committee staff regarding your company's
investigation and latest findings," said John Rockefeller,
chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Claire McCaskill,
who heads a Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection.
The Democratic senators' Jan. 10 letter to Target CEO Gregg
Steinhafel was released on Tuesday, the latest in a growing
chorus of calls by lawmakers and others for inquiries into the
hacking of the No. 3 U.S. retailer.
"We have received the chairmen's letter and are continuing
to work with them and other elected officials to keep them
informed and updated as our investigation continues," Target
spokeswoman Molly Snyder said in an email to Reuters.
Shortly afterwards, the top Democrat on the House Oversight
and Government Reform Committee sought a hearing on the theft of
about 40 million credit and debit card records and 70 million
other records containing customer information.
Representative Elijah Cummings said the committee's focus
since October has been investigating the security of the federal
government's health insurance website, HealthCare.gov, which has
not been breached.
He urged the committee chairman, Republican Darrell Issa,
who made a fortune as head of a company that makes car alarms
and other automotive security devices, to turn his attention to
"In addition to serving the interests of millions of
American consumers affected by this breach, I believe the
committee could learn from these witnesses about their failures,
successes and best practices in order to better secure our
federal information technology systems," Cummings wrote.
An aide to Issa told Reuters the committee was likely to "do
some follow up" on the Target issue.
Target disclosed on Dec. 19 that it was a victim of one of
the biggest credit card breaches on record, which it said lasted
for 19 days in the busy holiday shopping season through Dec. 15.
The company on Monday apologized for the breach.
"It has been three weeks since the data breach was
discovered, and new information continues to come out,"
Rockefeller and McCaskill wrote. "We expect that your security
experts have had time to fully examine the cause and impact of
the breach and will be able to provide the Committee with
The Target hacking shows the need for federal legislation on
commercial data practices, the senators said.
Democratic lawmakers sought a congressional hearing on
Monday from the Financial Services Committee. Its Republican
chairman, Jeb Hensarling, said his panel will continue to hold
hearings on the security of financial information and on how to
protect personal consumer information.
"Americans have a right to expect that the personal
information they turn over to private companies and government
agencies will be protected and kept secure from loss,
unauthorized access or misuse," Hensarling said in a statement.
Separately, an official with the House Energy and Commerce
committee's majority Republicans said that one of its
subcommittees has held numerous hearings on data breaches and
that it was monitoring the Target situation but has taken no
The National Association of Federal Credit Unions sent
letters on Monday to congressional leaders, demanding action on
Although congressional hearings would allow for an airing of
grievances and could bring Target officials to Washington for
questioning about how the case has been handled, they would not
necessarily result in any action or in legislation.
Steinhafel told CNBC television on Monday: "We're going to
get to the bottom of this. We're not going to rest until we
understand what happened and how that happened."
Target shares closed at $61.70, up 0.3 percent, on the New
York Stock Exchange.