The rumors about my death have been greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase Mark Twain. I guess I’m a burst-blogger, at least for as long I’m also the CTO of a growing start-up.
The credit card companies started to make good on their threats and levy hefty fines like this one issued against TJX and its banks. This makes the pain of non-compliance very real, and I think we are going to see more of it as the credit card companies demonstrate that they mean business. This is one of the benefits of having an industry-regulated standard as opposed to laws and regulations – the incentives to enforce are business incentives, so they work…
A-propos, another recent development around PCI, which I think has not been receiving the attention that it should, is the passing of the first state law to augment PCI DSS the standard. Minnesota, the state that passed this law, is home to some of America’s largest retailers, such as Target and Best Buy, so on its own this law may have far reaching impact. Moreover, similar to California Senate Bill 1386 that deals with privacy breach notification and spawned copycat laws in some 38 other states, I expect the Minnesota law to be the harbinger of additional state laws (Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois are contemplating it), although in California it was shot down by the governator.
It may seem redundant to enact laws where an industry standard is already working well, but I understand the lawmakers’ perspective. You can’t just leave everything to market forces. Yes, right now it seems PCI is on the right track to provide protection for consumers. But this may not necessarily be the case in the future. Call it short term overkill, long-term insurance.
In the meantime, the retailers are trying to play “pass the hot potato” with the credit card issuers. While I agree that less data storage is less potential for data theft, there are accounting issues and simple business streamlining issues that need to be addressed. Guess what? The retailers’ gambit is not going to work. PCI DSS is not reversible, it’s only going forward. Credit card companies provide a valuable service to both consumers and retailers, and in this game, they have the power. Don’t like the requirements VISA is imposing? You have a choice – either comply, or don’t accept VISA anymore (and good luck with that…!), or outsource CC processing entirely.
The reality is that PCI is going to become part of the cost of doing business. It’s several years too late, but better late than never.