Senator Attacks CFPB’s Big Data Collecting Methods

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) is the latest congressman to lash out against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) large-scale data collecting efforts. 

In recent months, the CFPB has been the subject of growing Congressional criticism for its research into consumers’ finances, with some even calling it “downright creepy.”

As the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Senator Crapo is stressing the importance of “watching the watchdog,” as he put it in a op-ed Monday.

“As part of our government’s system of checks and balances, Congress conducts oversight over agencies to bring about transparency and accountability,” writes Crapo. “This is even more necessary with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was established unlike any other agency.”

Unlike most federal agencies, according to Crapo, the CFPB does not have to justify its actions or spending and the director holds “unique power” to determine the agency’s budget and mission priorities without public debate or input from Congress. 

Reports cited by Crapo reveal that the CFPB has spent more than $20 million for collecting and tracking the consumer spending habits of more than 10 million Americans. 

This large-scale effort by the CFPB has stirred unrest for some as the agency has not disclosed or provided examples of the type of data being collected.

“This lack of transparency of what the agency is doing and how it intends to use this personal financial data is troubling and warrants answers in a public forum,” he writes. 

To get answers, Crapo has requested that the CFPB provide the Senate Banking Committee with information on the agency’s data-collecting methods so that consumers can be assured that their information is safe.

“This data collection effort by the CFPB is just the latest example of how government agencies can operate in murky waters absent proper congressional oversight,” writes Crapo. “I will continue to push for structural changes to the CFPB to bring about transparency, openness and accountability.” 

Reforms are needed for the CFPB, adds Crapo, so that federal agencies help, not hinder, Americans.

Written by Jason Oliva

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