Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Move faster to improve credit card security

The huge security breach at Target should be a wake-up call to regulators and retailers to add safe guards to better protect financial transactions. With more consumers relying on debit and charge cards for everyday purchases, better security is essential for the banking system to function, households to budget and consumer confidence to remain high in the economic system.

Target announced Dec. 19 that approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts had been breached, with data taken from the cards' magnetic strips. The company later announced that separate data on 70 million people — including their mailing and email addresses, phone numbers and other information — may also have been stolen in the opening weeks of last year's holiday shopping season. The number of people affected could reach the equivalent of one in three Americans. And the theft could cost retailers, banks and consumers billions of dollars in uncovered losses and other costs.

The New York Times reported last week that Target's networks were "astonishingly open." Experts said the hackers entered through a digital gateway that lacked virtual walls and other security features, enabling the thieves to move quickly through company servers, stealing credit, debit and personal financial information including PINs. The computer code was malicious enough to cover its tracks and keep Target in the dark for weeks until the Secret Service alerted the company.

The size of the theft and the sensitivity of the data stolen reflects the role that charge and debit cards have taken on in the marketplace. Their convenience and the financial incentives that card issuers give consumers to use them also mean these cards will remain popular as a substitute for cash. That's why regulators and retailers need to move faster to strengthen security, and do more to separate billing from other personal data that retailers use for marketing purposes.

Target's chief executive said this month that the nation's No. 3 retailer would make "significant changes" in the wake of the theft. One place to start is by having the nation move more quickly toward adopting "smart-chip" technology, encrypted chips that are more secure than magnetic stripes on the backs of existing cards. That shift is not expected to take place until 2015. It should begin in earnest now.

The nation also needs a uniform standard for reporting data breaches. While 46 states have a notification requirement, the rules are all over the map, and the states give businesses wide latitude in reporting a breach to consumers. Florida, like many states, requires notification "without unreasonable delay." But that timetable can stretch for nearly seven weeks after a breach was found to have occurred. And Florida, like other states, also allows a notification waiver upon a request by law enforcement. These loopholes do not provide adequate security in an era when millions of people can have their sensitive, personal information stolen overnight.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18