Elizabeth Warren, Senator Elizabeth Warren, you remember Fauxcahontas, right?
When she went to the US Senate her number one priority was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because she was sure that consumers were being ripped off by banks and we needed an enormous federal agency to protect us from bank fees. We’re not here today to debate that point, although we’re sure you’ve probably guessed we’d be happy to use the buildings housing the Bureau for artillery practice between 10am and 4pm on any given weekday.
It seems the CFPB is going to protect us pretty much like the NSA protects us. By monitoring our every move. Yep, you read that right.
As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives — including their Social Security numbers — in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy.
The mortgage database is unprecedented and would collect personal mortgage information on every single-family residential first lien loan issued since 1998. Federal officials will continue updating the database into the indefinite future.
95% of all mortgages will be monitored. 95%. So, if you own your home, you’re now in a new federal database along with all of your financial information from your credit report. Your name, address, social security number, your entire credit history, all just sitting there waiting for the federal bureaucracy to decide they need your financial information for some reason or another. We can guarantee you the “reason” will be a convoluted interpretation of an obscure section of a federal law. Just like the rationale for this.
Critics, however, question the need for such a “vast database” for simple reporting purposes.
In a May 15 letter to FHFA Director Mel Watt and CFPB Director Richard Cordray, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, charged, “this expansion represents an unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of ordinary Americans.”
The rationale for creating a database with personally identifiable information for 227 million Americans is a report to Congress. We smell a rat.
It seems a panel from the House Financial Services Committee questioned Cordray about the database.
Earlier this year, Cordray tried to assuage concerned lawmakers during a Jan. 28 hearing of Hensarling’s panel, saying repeatedly the database will only contain “aggregate” information with no personal identifiers.
In January, the database was to contain aggregate information with no personal identifiers and in May it’s a comprehensive database with personal identifiers and the entire financial history of nearly every mortgage holder in the US. We’re going out on a limb and we’re going to accuse Cordray of lying to the committee. A database doesn’t grow in scope like that in less than four months.
Then there’s the issue of aggregate information including not just your financial history (ALL of it), but this.
The two agencies will also assemble “household demographic data,” including racial and ethnic data, gender, marital status, religion, education, employment history, military status, household composition, the number of wage earners and a family’s total wealth and assets.
We wonder why a federal agency would want that information. The conspiracy theorist who lives in our left ear keeps whispering all sorts of ideas, we won’t repeat them, except to note that the terms “Eric Holder,” “Department of Justice,” and “disparate impact” keep coming up.
There are questions about what Congress actually asked for in the report, and there is an open question about whether Congress authorized the agencies involved to create the database in the first place. We also know that the Executive Branch will ignore and stonewall those concerns and do whatever they want to do by executive decree and that Congress is essentially powerless to stop them.
We’re not going to address the very real concerns about the lack of cyber security with government systems, you can read the linked article about that, and it’s a very real concern.
We’ll leave you with this little gem, from a May 1 report from the White House – that would be the Obama administration – on federal databases. They issued a warning we’re going to agree with (just to prove that deep in our hard, cold, heart we’re bipartisan and not at all racist).
A May 1 White House report on cybersecurity of federal databases also recently warned, “if unchecked, big data could be a tool that substantially expands government power over citizens.”
Yep. Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.