AFR Statement: Monopoly Man Highlights Need for Congress to Act on Consumer Rights


Nov. 8, 2017


Carter Dougherty
(202) 251-6700


Monopoly Man Returns: What public and consumer rights are threatened now?


The Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on data breaches today. The Senate Judiciary Committee is discussing bogus claims about the alleged harms of lawsuits. But the question is, what will Congress do after the hearing?

Will they act to restore our right to control information about our own lives, and protect our privacy, or will they let Equifax and other data brokers turn the problems they caused into an excuse for undermining existing state laws with a sham weaker federal standard that replaces them? Will they restrict access to the courts? Congress recently voted to roll back a rule that would have curbed forced arbitration, a corporate-controlled process for resolving disputes.

“Just two weeks after taking away our right to join together against financial giants in court, some lawmakers want to restrict our legal rights further with a raft of terrible legislation,” said Monopoly Man, aka Amanda Werner of Americans for Financial Reform and Public Citizen. “And there is good reason to worry that others are planning to reward Equifax for the harm it caused millions of Americans by making it even easier for that to happen again.”

As massive data breaches have occurred at various companies, including Equifax and Yahoo, some lawmakers have sought to impose a national standard for informing consumers about unauthorized access to their most sensitive financial data. But these proposals are often Trojan horses that would in fact eviscerate much stronger state laws. Similarly, discussions of alleged “lawsuit abuse” are often trumped-up excuses to curb Americans’ rights to access the courts.

“Consumers are products, not customers, of Equifax and other data brokers, so we have no control over all of our personal information that they buy and sell and sometimes lose,” Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director of U.S. PIRG, an AFR member group. “As I told a House committee last week, the Equifax data breach must not lead to passage of narrow, weak federal protections that hide a Trojan Horse full of sweeping eliminations of state data protection and privacy laws.”

Monopoly Man gained national attention last month when Werner dressed up in full costume and sat directly behind Equifax CEO Richard Smith, who will be present at the hearing today, at a U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing. The stunt captivated viewers as Monopoly Man was seen adjusting a monocle, wiping their brow with an oversized hundred-dollar bill and chasing down Smith with a bag of money after the hearing.

NOTE: Werner requests use of gender neutral pronouns: they/them/their, per AP Style