JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Sen. Robert Menendez wants the federal government to hold companies accountable when their customers' financial information is stolen.
The New Jersey Democrat is taking on the topic after last week's revelation that information about 40 million Target customer accounts had been stolen.
At a news conference Thursday outside a Target store in Jersey City, Menendez said he wants to make sure retailers are "putting their customers ahead of profits." He announced that he had requested details from the Federal Trade Commission on whether it can fine firms for security breaches and whether laws should be changed to protect consumer data.
"We need to know if the FTC has the teeth to hold retailers who failed to protect consumers' information accountable," Menendez said.
Menendez said he "has a feeling" that the agency won't be able to levy fines or penalties against companies. When a data breach occurred at Marshall's and T.J. Maxx in 2006, the FTC wasn't able to fine the stores' parent company as part of a settlement agreement.
"Our country's consumers depend upon safe and secure transactions, and especially at this crucial time of year, our country's retailers must commit to fulfilling that expectation," Sen. Menendez wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.