GSA announces the plan for environmental, transportation and other studies at sites being explored for the new Department of Labor (DOL) headquarters
WASHINGTON, DC – With the holiday shopping season in full swing, a new report unveiled today by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is cautioning parents about the privacy risk associated with so-called smart toys.
Smart toys, which can interact with a child by connecting to the internet, can become a target for hackers and identity thieves looking to steal a parent or child’s personal information often stored by the toymaker.
These toys, and the companies that make them, often collect and store a wide range of personal information about the consumers.
The report noted that, if improperly secured, criminals can use the information stored on these devices in a variety of ways. For example: a child's Social Security number can be used by identity thieves to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts or apply for a loan. Additionally, a child’s name, home address, online contact information or physical location can be used to contact or even abduct that child.
The report cites three incidents in which smart toy manufacturers failed to adequately secure a child’s personal information.
One such incident involved a data breach at VTech Electronics, a leading manufacturer of electronic learning toys and baby monitors. The breach, which occurred last year, reportedly exposed the personal information of more than six million children around the globe, including their names, genders and birthdates, as well as photographs and account passwords.
The report went on to cite security flaws found in two other popular children’s toys - Fisher-Price’s Smart Toy Bear and hereO’s GPS watch – which could have exposed not only a child’s personal information, but in the case of the GPS watch, a child’s real-time physical location as well.
“It’s frightening to think that our children’s toys can be used against them in this way,” said Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. “The companies that make these toys have to do more to safeguard the parents and children who use them.”
The report recommends several measures parents can take both before and after purchasing a smart toy to help secure their child’s information, including:
Before purchasing a toy:
• Check whether the manufacturer of a particular toy has been the subject of a previous data breach and how the company handled that breach.
After purchasing a toy:
• Change the default passwords that come with the toy and install any available updates to the toy’s software.
• If possible, change the toy’s default privacy settings to limit the amount of personal information it provides to the manufacturer. Parents should allow a toy to collect only the information that is necessary for it to properly function.
A copy of the report is available here:
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) issued the following statement on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Update on Takata Recall Remedies:
“I’m glad that NHTSA has finally released a more complete list of vehicles and repair timeline for this snail’s paced recall,” said Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. “But the fact remains that a number of these dangerous airbags won’t be replaced until the next decade. Drivers should not have to wait that long to get what could be a ticking time bomb out of their cars.
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Friday, December 9, 2016
Contact: Bryan Thomas
U.S. DOT Accelerates Replacements of Takata Air Bag Inflators
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an amended order today to continue the acceleration of recall repairs for millions of U.S. vehicle owners affected by the Takata air bag inflator recalls. The Amended Coordinated Remedy Order sets requirements for when automakers must have replacement parts available for customers and sets progress and completion deadlines for replacements of the defective parts which have been responsible for 11 deaths and approximately 180 injuries in the United States.
“The Department of Transportation is maintaining its aggressive oversight of the efforts to recall Takata air bags as quickly as possible,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The amended order will speed up the availability of replacement air bags, and continues to prioritize the highest risk vehicles to protect the traveling public.”
The Amended Coordinated Remedy Order issued to Takata and the 19 affected automakers requires replacement parts to be obtained on an accelerated basis and made available first to the riskiest vehicles. The order sets new requirements for automakers to certify to NHTSA when they have obtained a sufficient supply of replacement parts to begin repairs, and requires automakers to coordinate consumer messaging using best practices identified by NHTSA, industry and the Independent Monitor of Takata and the Coordinated Remedy Program. This action builds on the Coordinated Remedy Program initiated in November 2015, incorporating the additional tens of millions of inflators recalled or scheduled for future recall since that date, most of which were included in the May 2016 recall expansion.
“NHTSA is doing everything possible to make sure that there are no more preventable injuries or deaths because of these dangerous air bag inflators,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. “All vehicle owners should regularly check their vehicles for recalls at SaferCar.gov and go get them fixed at no cost as soon as replacement parts are available.”
There are currently 46 million recalled Takata air bag inflators in 29 million vehicles in the United States. Under the Amended Consent Order issued to Takata in May 2016, automakers will be required to recall additional inflators over the next three years, ultimately affecting approximately 64 to 69 million inflators in 42 million total recalled vehicles. Ultimately all frontal Takata inflators using non-desiccated phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN) will be recalled. The full list of vehicles that are currently affected or will be affected by future Takata recalls is available here.
Under the Coordinated Remedy Program, NHTSA has committed to seeking a 100 percent recall completion rate from the vehicle manufacturers to protect the motoring public. As of Dec. 2, automakers reported they have so far repaired approximately 12.5 million inflators.
Before establishing the schedule for the expanded Takata inflator recalls announced in May 2016, NHTSA and its independent expert reviewed the findings of three independent research organizations into the Takata air bag ruptures and confirmed the findings on the root cause of inflator ruptures. A combination of time, environmental moisture and cycling high temperatures contribute to the degradation of the ammonium nitrate propellant in the inflators. Such degradation can cause the propellant to burn too quickly, rupturing the inflator module and sending shrapnel through the air bag and into the vehicle’s cabin.
The recall and remedy schedule mandated by NHTSA ensures that vehicles with defective air bag inflators are recalled and have replacement parts available before they present a significant risk to vehicle occupants. This is the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.
NHTSA has worked to increase consumer awareness of the recalls and encourage vehicle owners with open recalls to take action. The Agency launched its Safe Cars Save Lives campaign in January, and conducted a five-state, ten-city bus tour—through the highest risk areas for Takata air bag ruptures—to find vehicle owners with open recalls and raise awareness of the SaferCar.gov VIN lookup tool.
The Takata recalls currently cover frontal inflators that do not include a chemical desiccant that absorbs moisture. There have been no reported ruptures of desiccated inflators due to propellant degradation. Under the Amended Coordinated Remedy Order and the May 2016 Consent Order, Takata and automakers that use desiccated PSAN inflators are required to research their safety. Absent proof that the desiccated PSAN inflators are safe, they will also be subject to recall. Takata is required to prove the safety of these inflators by the end of 2019.
Consumers can find complete information about the Takata air bag inflator recalls here.
- December 2016 Amendment to the Coordinated Remedy Order
- NHTSA Recalls Spotlight: Takata Air Bag Recalls
- Fact Sheet: NHTSA Actions to Accelerate the Takata Remedy
- Fact Sheet: Takata Recall History and Key Terms
- Fact Sheet: May 2016 Takata Recall Expansion
Commerce Committee’s Sexual Assault Prevention Reforms for NOAA, Merchant Marine Academy Head to President’s Desk
US Supreme Court’s ‘Salman v. US’ Decision Answers One Insider-Trading Question, Leaves Others Unresolved
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an off-the-floor markup on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, in room S-216 of the U.S. Capitol. The committee will consider Ann Begeman's nomination (re-appointment) to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board.
Click here for more information on the nominee.
Nomination of Ann Begeman to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board
* Nomination approved by voice vote
Executive Session Details:
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Room S-216 of the U.S. Capitol
Securing our nation’s transportation system is critical to keeping Americans safe.
Over the past year, we’ve seen an increasing threat of terrorism to vital surface transportation networks. On September 17, a bomb exploded in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood injuring thirty-one people. Two days later, police in Elizabeth, New Jersey, removed from a public trashcan a backpack filled with pipe bombs. The devices were discovered near the town’s train station. Fortunately, no one was killed in either bombing.
But earlier this year, in Nice, France, a member of ISIL drove a commercial truck into a crowded promenade, killing 84 people. And in March, 16 individuals were killed in a bomb blast at a metro station in Brussels, Belgium.
These tragic events underscore a dangerous reality: our surface transportation, rail, ports, pipelines, and mass transit systems are at serious risk of attack.
Unlike TSA aviation security checkpoints at our airports, TSA does not directly manage surface transportation security. Instead, TSA is responsible for providing guidance, oversight, intelligence and assistance to system operators and law enforcement so that they can ensure security across our nation’s surface transportation network.
However, recent reports by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security have questioned the TSA’s management of our nation’s surface transportation security programs and resources.
A September 2016 IG report found that oversight of a critical TSA port access program (otherwise known as TWIC) had inadequate oversight. TWIC impacts nearly 3.5 million port and freight workers. The IG’s office found that the program’s fraud detection techniques were not monitored and key internal controls were missing from the terrorism vetting process.
A second, even more alarming IG report from September found TSA “lacks an intelligence-driven, risk-based security strategy that informs security and resource decisions across all transportation modes,” beyond aviation. The report further noted that, “TSA lacks a formal process to incorporate risk in budget formulation decisions.”
When Administrator Peter Neffenger testified earlier this year before this committee, he pointed out that TSA spends just 3 percent of its budget on surface transportation security initiatives. This fact may come as a surprise to most Americans. Congress must evaluate the adequacy of these resources and demand that they be spent based on the threat risk to our transportation network. It’s clear that our ports, highways, pipelines, and railways are at risk.
Today’s hearing convenes a panel of multi-modal stakeholders and experts to discuss how we can enhance the security of our transportation system and ensure the TSA is effective.
This fall, Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson, Senator Booker, and I introduced the bipartisan Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act to address our concerns.
This comprehensive bill would instruct the TSA to establish risk-based budgeting, expand the highly effective canine explosive detection teams for surface transportation, and authorize computer vetting systems for passenger railroads.
Among other provisions, this important legislation would address management inefficiencies raised by the Inspector General as it relates to the TWIC program. In May 2015, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the Essential Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act, which compels the TSA to fully assess the TWIC program and work with the Inspector General to resolve vetting, oversight, and other major security loopholes.
I am pleased to convene this hearing with the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and leading experts from the pipeline, trucking, and passenger rail sectors. I look forward to learning more about how you advance all aspects of security in your daily operations and how we can work together to strengthen transportation security.
I would now like to invite my colleague and this Subcommittee’s ranking member, Senator Cory Booker, to offer opening remarks.
WASHINGTON – House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) made the following statement upon the announcement President-elect Trump will name Linda McMahon as his nominee for Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA):
“Linda McMahon is an excellent choice by President-elect Trump to lead the SBA as administrator. I look forward to working with her and the new administration to roll back burdensome regulations and increase access to capital for America’s 28 million small businesses. Our Committee will work with the new administrator to advance meaningful reforms that will make the SBA more efficient and customer-friendly for small businesses. This work should begin by fixing the ongoing problems in SBA and SBA-administered programs that were exposed through our oversight hearings in the 114th Congress.”