FTC Confirms TJX Probe

The Federal Trade Commission has confirmed that it has been investigating the TJX data breach that the retail chain disclosed last month, but released few details, according to a story in today's Boston Globe.

U.S. Rep. Edward J Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued a statement supporting the government probe, as congressional leaders debate whether to hold their own hearings. One Congressional aide said on Tuesday that initial interest to hold House hearings has given way to letting the FTC conduct its own probe and to wait and see what it comes up with.

"An FTC investigation into the TJX data breach should uncover the extent of the harm suffered by TJX customers and shine a light on the security weaknesses at TJX that were exploited by data thieves hunting for consumers' personal information," Markey said, in a prepared statement. "I hope that companies that collect and keep consumers' credit card numbers, addresses and other sensitive information on file will learn lessons from the FTC's investigation, so they can avoid privacy pitfalls that appear to have tripped up TJX."

Markey has co-sponsored a data security bill to force companies to deploy "strongest possible data safeguards and update them frequently," Markey said.

But what?if anything--the FTC probe has come up with thus far is far from clear. The Globe reported that FTC officials "in response to a public request for information from the Globe, withheld dozens of documents relating to the TJX security breach because of a current investigation. In a March 8 letter, the commission said 'disclosure of that material could reasonably be expected to interfere with the conduct of the Commission's law enforcement activities.'"