CFPB data collection controversy continues

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It appears Senator Mike Crapo, Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, was not satisfied by CFPB Director Cordray’s letter to him responding to Senator Crapo’s questions about the CFPB’s data collection activities. Yesterday, Senator Crapo sent a letter to Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), asking the GAO to investigate those activities.

The questions sent to Mr. Cordray by Senator Crapo followed Mr. Cordray’s April 23 appearance before the Banking Committee during which he was questioned about reports that the CFPB was demanding voluminous amounts of information from banks it supervises related to financial products and services and buying data from vendors about various financial products and services. At the hearing and in his letter to Senator Crapo, Mr. Cordray vigorously defended the CFPB’s data collection efforts as necessary for informing its rulemaking and other statutory mandates. He also asserted that the CFPB is not collecting personally identifiable financial information (PII) about consumers.

According to Senator Crapo, a GAO investigation is needed because “[w]hile CFPB officials have stated the CFPB is not collecting PII, we do not know what information it collects, on how many accounts, or how this information is being used. We also need to know whether the CFPB is truly not collecting PII from the data it is collecting or purchasing.” In an attachment to his letter, Senator Crapo identified specific issues for the GAO to consider in its investigation. Those issues relate to the CFPB’s legal authority to collect the data, the scope and purpose of the data collection, privacy and data security, and costs associated with the data collection.