Senator Warren Questions CFPB Data Collection Freeze

Weiner Brodsky Kider PC
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Weiner Brodsky Kider PC

In a letter to Leandra English and Mick Mulvaney earlier this month, Senator Elizabeth Warren questioned Mr. Mulvaney’s announcement ordering a freeze on the CFPB’s collection of personally identifiable information (PII) based on cybersecurity concerns raised in two Inspector General (IG) reports, and expressed concern that the freeze will inhibit the CFPB’s core functions.

According to Senator Warren, following Mr. Mulvaney’s announcement, the CFPB’s Assistant Director for Supervision Examinations directed all examiners to stop sending supervised entities information requests until additional guidance is issued, and indicated that in the future, supervised entities would be instructed to make PII available onsite rather than providing it to the CFPB to load onto its system. Senator Warren also claims her staff has been informed that CFPB enforcement attorneys are no longer permitted to review electronic evidence obtained in discovery, and that this information is not being loaded onto the CFPB’s system. Senator Warren believes that the freeze “threatens to seriously hamper the pace and effectiveness of future examinations, and is already having a significant impact on the flow of information to CFPB examiners.”

Senator Warren argues that the freeze is unjustified based on her review of the IG reports, which she believes demonstrate that the CFPB’s cybersecurity policies are robust and that any cybersecurity concerns that may exist are not serious enough to support the freeze. Senator Warren also states that the IG reports do not recommend shutting down any CFPB activities. Accordingly, Senator Warren contends that Mr. Mulvaney is inappropriately using the IG reports as a pretext to “halt and weaken” critical CFPB functions.

Senator Warren’s letter requested that her staff be briefed on the freeze by January 12, and that responses to questions contained in the letter be provided by January 18.

A copy of the letter can be viewed here: https://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/2018_01_04_Letter_to_English_and_Mulvaney_on_CFPB_Data_Collection.pdf.

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