Massachusetts gets OK to sue Equifax over breach exposing personal data of 147M

The Massachusetts Attorney General has been given the go-ahead to sue Equifax over a massive data breach that exposed highly sensitive personally identifiable information of a majority of U.S. adults, adding to the legal challenges the credit bureau faces in the months and years ahead.

Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger ruled this week that the lawsuit from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy can proceed, according to Reuters. The decision denied a motion by Equifax to dismiss the complaint.

The Massachusetts lawsuit is particularly noteworthy because it is the only one so far filed by a state attorney general. Other attorneys general around the state have launched investigations into the Equifax breach, but have not yet brought formal lawsuits.

Healy has argued that Equifax knew or should have known about the vulnerability that led to the exposure of sensitive data, including Social Security numbers, of some 147 million Americans.

The Equifax hack was an unprecedented breach that affected some 60 percent if adults in America.

The incident has called into question the viability of the Social Security number as a primary form of identification in America. Ousted Equifax CEO Richard Smith has publicly said since the incident that the data breach highlights a need for America to find better forms of identification for its citizens.

“It is time to have identity verification procedures that match the technical age in which we live,” Smith said in an appearance before Congress last October.