Thursday, October 05, 2017

The State Stands Guard Over Equifax


Protecting the very very rich from the rest of us (source)

by Gaius Publius

In an earlier piece on the Equifax data hack and its consequences, I predicted this:
This breach and its likely consequences represents three acts of violence inflicted on the population of the U.S....

The third act of violence is about to be committed by the bipartisan wealth-protecting neoliberal state, which sees as its duty — is paid in fact to see as its duty — the protection of corporate profits, including Equifax's, at the expense of its citizens. If Equifax is protected by government and business-friendly conservative judges, in all likelihood, the company will suffer no damage at all beyond a temporary PR "speed bump." Government protection of Equifax will guarantee that the maximum possible cost will be passed to you....

Will Equifax risk going out of business for this massive data breach, or will its "runway be foamed" by government protection so it can recover as a company pretty much intact?
In other words, not only would Equifax not be disciplined by the government, but it would be protected by the government from harm cause either by the so-called "free market" or by federal courts.

In the immediate wake of the data breach news we saw a round of announced, outraged congressional investigations. But time has passed, the major shock is over, and now we see the start of government protection. The IRS has announced that it's awarding Equifax a multi-million dollar no-bid exclusive contract to aid the agency with "fraud prevention."

No, this is not The Onion:
IRS awards multimillion-dollar fraud-prevention contract to Equifax

The no-bid contract was issued last week, as the company continued facing fallout from its massive security breach. 

The IRS will pay Equifax $7.25 million to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud under a no-bid contract issued last week, even as lawmakers lash the embattled company about a massive security breach that exposed personal information of as many as 145.5 million Americans.

A contract award for Equifax's data services was posted to the Federal Business Opportunities database Sept. 30 — the final day of the fiscal year. The credit agency will "verify taxpayer identity" and "assist in ongoing identity verification and validations" at the IRS, according to the award.

The notice describes the contract as a "sole source order," meaning Equifax is the only company deemed capable of providing the service. It says the order was issued to prevent a lapse in identity checks while officials resolve a dispute over a separate contract.
A $7.5 million dollar cash infusion is not that great for a company with nearly $500 million in net income (pdf), but it's not nothing either, especially coming from the federal government, and the timing will help restore confidence in the stock price, which has been rising. This is the government saying, "We're not going to let Equifax go away, despite their demonstrated dangerous incompetence."

The optics, of course, are terrible, but if you think this happened because the Republicans are in the White House, think again. A Democratic administration under any neoliberal president would do the same — protect Equifax from market harm. Ask yourself if Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or Chuck Schumer allow Equifax to twist in the free market wind. Of course not. They'd treat that company like they treated the Wall Street banks — chasten them, then offer whatever bailout is needed to "preserve an indispensable market giant."

The Failed Revolt of 2016

This is why the failed revolt we now call the "2016 election" — a failed revolution really — will inevitably continue, whichever pit or paradise it leads us to as a country. Does the voting public think a Democratic president-not-named-Sanders would act differently, or just more circumspectly?

Democrats in Congress would like you to think they'd be different. Sen. Ron Wyden:
"The Finance Committee will be looking into why Equifax was the only company to apply for and be rewarded with this. I will continue to take every measure possible to prevent taxpayer data from being compromised as this arrangement moves forward."
But then, the Republicans are saying the same thing. Sen. Orrin Hatch:
"In the wake of one of the most massive data breaches in a decade, it’s irresponsible for the IRS to turn over millions in taxpayer dollars to a company that has yet to offer a succinct answer on how at least 145 million Americans had personally identifiable information exposed,"
Which party will independent voters believe — one, both, or neither — as the failed revolt of 2016 rolls to the 2018 races? We'll soon find out.


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At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jamie dimon isn't in prison. the WF guys are free and still getting bonuses. Lloyd Blankfein is still raking. Trillions in fraud; 10 million homes lost; a similar number of jobs gone poof.

"we tortured some folks" -- hopey changey. (NB: torture is illegal)

Now Equifax.

Nobody... not one... has been found responsible, except for "just following orders", the Nazi Nuremburg excuse that was not acceptable in the late '40s.

... and the populace sits with their thumbs up their asses.

If I were among the 10 million homeless and/or jobless or among the millions who had their credit rating ratfucked so WF could goose some numbers... just saying.

Americans are docile, completely cowed dolts. If we don't give a shit, why should government even PRETEND to give a shit?


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