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eBay investigated by UK and US authorities after data breach


UK data protection boss says people will be "go off" web companies that don't look after their personal info

An avalanche of investigations are set to fall on eBay following a catastrophic security breach that allowed hackers to steal the personal information and encrypted passwords of 233 million users.

In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it was almost certain to investigate eBay following the breach.

“eBay is, on the face of it, a very serious breach,” said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham.

“The message for business is you’ve got be better at security and you’ve got to be better with our personal data.”

He also warned people to be wary of phishing emails claiming to be from eBay, urging people to go directly to the website to change passwords.

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However the ICO has limited powers and can only issue fines of up to £500,000 and demand that offending companies improve their data protection practices. Graham admitted that his organisation could do little to dissuade large companies:

“To a great global player like eBay, that doesn’t make very much difference. It’s the power of the consumer – if you go off a brand because you don’t think they’re taking your security seriously – that’s the real threat.”

In 2011 Sony was fined £250,000 for a major breach of its PlayStation Network service.

In the US, the states of Connecticut, Florida and Illinois have all launched investigations, while New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman has demanded that eBay provide free credit monitoring for all users.

“New Yorkers and eBay customers across the country trust that retailers will protect their personal information when they shop online. Our office has asked and fully expects eBay to provide free credit monitoring services to customers impacted by this breach.”

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