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Senators To Query Data Theft

Washington — Two U.S. senators want answers from Target Corp. CEO Gregg Steinhafel about the recent data breach that put at risk 70 million of the Minneapolis-based retailers’ customers.

In a Jan. 10 letter, Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., asked Steinhafel to brief the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to explain how information from so many customer accounts was stolen.

“It has been three weeks since the data breach was discovered and new information continues to come out,” they wrote. “We expect 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 detailed information.”

On Wednesday, a Target spokeswoman said the company had received the senators’ letter and was “continuing to work with them and other elected officials to keep them informed and updated as our investigation continues.”

She did not say when Target officials might meet with Commerce Committee members.

Rockefeller of West Virginia, who chairs the committee, and Minnesota’s McCaskill, who chairs its Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance subcommittee, have backed legislation for better security of consumer data and prompter corporate disclosures of security breaches.

Target waited four days after learning that its database had been hacked to announce the theft of customer information.

“Target’s recent incident demonstrates the need for such federal legislation,” Rockefeller and McCaskill wrote to Steinhafel.

The company initially reported that 40 million customer accounts were compromised by data thefts between Nov. 27 and Dec. 13. But earlier this month Target said names, addresses and other information from as many as 70 million customers were compromised.

Rockefeller and McCaskill called it “one of the nation’s biggest data breaches in recent memory.”

Steinhafel and Target have undertaken a national campaign of apologies and offers to monitor the credit ratings and ensure no injury to customers affected by the crime.