Friday, April 27, 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: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18