While the domestic spying National Security Agency has been under the red-hot political spot light, another quasi-governmental agency has quietly gone about the business of collecting nearly 1 billion U.S. credit card records without consumer consent.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB, unlike the NSA, operates with no congressional oversight and with little public transparency, even as it demands complete transparency from the businesses it targets.
As Brian Wise puts it, the rogue agency created under the Obama administration to protect consumers now serves as “judge, jury, and executioner” in determining winners and losers in U.S. business and consumption.
Wise is senior adviser to the U.S. Consumer Coalition, a free-market consumer rights advocate. The coalition has documented hundreds of cases of abuse by Operation Choke Point, an Obama initiative overseen by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that targets merchants, such as gun dealers and payday lenders, who don’t fit into the administration’s idea of what an American business should be.
“Literally, this agency can investigate, can enforce, and can make the judgment against any individual company or individual citizen that they say is violating the law,” Wise told Watchdog.org this week as the U.S. Senate passed a bill to scale back the NSA’s sweeping surveillance of American phone records. President Obama signed the bill into law a few hours later.
But reform of the shadowy Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been slow. Even if Congress does come to terms, political observers say it’s unlikely Obama will sign any reform bill of the agency that has his fingerprints and those on the far-left wing all over it.
“These are threats (to consumers and businesses) that have been well thought out by a very activist wing of the Democratic Party,” Wise said. “In order for them to be stopped, Americans on both sides of the aisle need to stand up and say, “This is not the America I believe in.’”
The record shows the NFPB has collected data from more than 85 percent of all credit cards issued in the United States.
Last year, a congressional hearing found CFPB officials were working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency to mine data on the 53 million residential mortgages taken out by Americans since 1998.