News Release

Press Release of Senator Crapo

Crapo Seeks Answers on Legality of CFPB Big Data Collection

Contact: Mandi Critchfield
Thursday, May 16, 2013

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, today sent a letter to Mr. Richard Cordray, the President’s nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), requesting prompt answers to legal concerns surrounding the massive data collection effort undertaken by the agency on consumer spending habits. 

Following Mr. Cordray’s nomination hearing in March, Crapo requested more information regarding CFPB’s data collection efforts.  The CFPB’s response significantly downplayed the nature and extent of its data collection efforts.  Subsequently, news reports indicated the agency has allocated more than $20 million for collecting and tracking customer credit card and spending habits for more than 10 million Americans.  When Mr. Cordray again testified before the Committee in April, Crapo reiterated his concerns with the scope and nature of CFPB’s data collection, as well as its legality, and was assured a quick response.  It has been nearly one month since the hearing with no response from the CFPB, while the bureau continues to collect data on millions of individuals with credit cards and checking accounts.   

In the letter, Crapo states, “Congress and the public have the right to know how broad this data collection is, how consumers’ financial information is used by a government agency, and how sensitive information is stored and protected.  I respectfully request that these documents be provided to me in writing prior to any request by CFPB officials to meet with my staff.”

To view a signed copy of the letter click HERE.

Below is the full text of the letter:

___________________________________________________________________________

Mr. Richard Cordray
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1700 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20552

 

Dear Mr. Cordray:

On April 23rd the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (“Committee”) held a hearing on the Semi-Annual Agenda of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”). 

At the hearing, I raised concerns regarding the CFPB’s data collection efforts.  In response, you stated that the Bureau has many different mechanisms for the agency’s “Big Data” collection of consumer lending and credit data including but not limited to:  (1) purchasing data from third party vendors, (2) collecting data pursuant to the agency’s examination and supervisory authority, (3) collecting data from the CFPB’s National Mortgage Database, and (4) collecting data from consumers’ submissions to the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database.  As we did not have enough time at the hearing to discuss fully this matter, or the other data collection issues I raised in my previous questions for the record of the March 23rd hearing, I requested of you that CFPB officials provide me with all of the legal analyses justifying  the Bureau to collect and use this Big Data. You agreed to have CFPB officials follow up and provide me with the legal analyses.  Unfortunately, since the hearing no CFPB officials have contacted me or my staff to provide the information.  

In light of the lack of response by CFPB officials, I am requesting in writing this information.  Because the Bureau’s efforts appear to be very broad, I seek a full and thorough legal analysis that the Bureau has undertaken to ascertain its authority to engage in such sweeping collection of consumers’ financial information.  Specifically, I respectfully request for Bureau to provide the following:

  • Any and all documents, communication and analyses, undertaken by CFPB officials and/or outside counsel and authorities justifying  CFPB’s legal authority to collect consumer lending and credit data for the agency’s Big Data initiative.

  • Any and all documents, communication and analyses, undertaken by CFPB officials and/or outside counsel and authorities justifying CFPB’s legal authority to use consumer lending and credit data for the agency’s Big Data initiative for current and future anticipated uses of the consumer data.

Congress and the public have the right to know how broad this data collection is, how consumers’ financial information is being used by a government agency, and how sensitive information is stored and protected.  I respectfully request that these documents be provided to me in writing prior to any request by CFPB officials to meet with my staff.

 

Respectfully,

Last updated 04/23/2013