• Cloakroom Confidential: Privacy Being Assaulted by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is becoming more of a menace to law abiding business interests and the privacy rights of all Americans. The institution was set up under the Dodd-Frank financial protection law as a response to the economic meltdown in the fall of 2008. It has become a case study in mission creep and the power of this bureaucracy is growing day by day.

    Bruce Fein writes at The Washington Times that the CFPB is proving to be an institution that is a danger to liberty and privacy. In denouncing warrantless wiretaps in Olmstead v. United States (1928), Justice Louis Brandeis elaborated: “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.” That observation fits the CFPB’s consumer financial data collection octopus like a glove. The agency is indiscriminately collecting millions of transactions under the soothing banner of research or analysis. According to the Government Accountability Office, the CFPB database including its sharing arrangement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency gives it access to almost 90 percent of outstanding credit card balances, 173 million mortgage loans, 11,000 consumer arbitration case records, and more. The database includes both account and transaction-level information.

    So the CFPB has put together a database of individuals with credit records. Millions of records that should be private and not subject to search by federal bureaucrats has been made freely accessible to the government.

    This action by the CFPB, and a recent push to force a large percentage of drones to be registered by the federal government, is sending Americans down the road of federal registration of everything, including guns. Some will say this is fear mongering, but it is not. If the government gets comfortable collecting the financial records of Americans and can force people to register drones, then it is not that much of a leap to force them to register guns.

    Any way you slice it, the CFPB is over reaching and needs to back off in the effort to collect all Americans credit records so they can craft new regulations that will narrow choice and increase cost for credit instruments for the middle class and poor. And it may set a precedent for a national gun registry.

    Cloakroom Confidential

    Cloakroom Confidential was a longtime Capitol Hill staffer and insider who has contacts in the House and Senate at the highest levels.

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