Statement On Today’s Hearing On The CFPB’s Mass Data Collection Program by AFR
Repeat a preposterous story often enough, and maybe someday you’ll get a few people to believe it. That could be the theory behind the campaign to depict the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as an NSA-style spy agency and a threat to liberty.
The House Financial Services Committee has found time today for a hearing on the CFPB’s “Mass Data Collection Program.” Tellingly, the committee has yet to find a legitimate privacy rights or consumer protection group willing to participate in this sham crusade. In fact, the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Watchdog, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, and US PIRG have repeatedly – and again this week – affirmed their support for the Consumer Bureau’s use of anonymous data to track market trends. The CFPB’s data collection and analysis practices, these groups point out, are no different from those of other regulatory agencies which have attracted no such congressional scrutiny.
The impetus for today’s hearing plainly comes from payday lenders and financial companies seeking a high-minded pretext for their relentless efforts to undermine the first and only financial regulator with a mandate to put the interests of consumers ahead of the power and profits of the financial industry.
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The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office looked into this bogus controversy last year, finding no credible grounds for concern. The CFPB, it said, has taken steps to “protect and secure” its data, and has a system for “anonymizing” any identifying information. Lack of evidence does not seem to have affected the lobbyists and lawmakers orchestrating this effort. Nor, for that matter, have the leaders of the Financial Services Committee shown any comparable interest in the abundant evidence of problems involving the largely unregulated collection and use of consumer data by banks and other powerful financial companies.
The only reputation they have damaged by trying to make a privacy-rights case against the Consumer Bureau is their own.