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United States Government Privacy The Almighty Buck Your Rights Online

Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts 264

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the Washington Examiner: "Officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are conducting a massive, NSA-esque data-mining project collecting account information on an estimated 991 million American credit card accounts. It was also learned at a Congressional hearing Tuesday that CFPB officials are working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency on a second data-mining effort, this one focused on the 53 million residential mortgages taken out by Americans since 1998. ...Later in the hearing, [Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas] remarked that CFPB 'and NSA are in a contest of who can collect the most information,' ... although the CFPB disagreed with that statement. In previous testimony before Rep. Jeb Hensarling's panel, Antonakes said 'the combined data represents approximately 85-90 percent of outstanding card balances.' The Argus contract specifies that the company must collect 96 'data points' from each of the participating card issuers for each credit card account on a monthly basis. The 96 data points include a unique card-account identification reference number, ZIP code, monthly ending balance, borrower's income, FICO score, credit limit, monthly payment amount, and days past due. 'Would you object to getting permission from consumers, those people who you work for, before you collect and monitor their information?' Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., asked Cordray. 'That would make it impossible to get the data,' Cordray replied."
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Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:15PM (#46114877) Homepage Journal

    That this appears to state every person in the US, regardless of age, has on average three credit cards.

    Adjusting out the 17 and unders and the elderly who are less likely to be stacking up credit purchases on retirement budgets, this suggests about 5 cards per person.


  • Biased Much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rabtech ( 223758 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:16PM (#46114903) Homepage

    In order to regulate credit card companies and banks, the CFPB needs to know what is happening with these financial products.

    It would appear that the banks' astroturf campaign is in full swing trying to get people riled up.

  • Fucking Feds. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:16PM (#46114905) Homepage

    Everyone you know, everywhere you go, everything you say, everything you buy.

    Data like this is not about protecting us from terrorism, it is about setting up the US Federal Gov't as the largest terrorist organization in the world today, directly softly at its own citizens ... for the present.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:18PM (#46114935)

    All that information that they are going to collect has been collected without our permission for decades by the credit bureaus. ChoicePoint and the other background check companies (private spy agencies) accumulate even more data.

    We are also having to put more information on the web - like LinkedIN - in order to get employment. (I was told by several companies that they do ALL their recruitment via LinkedIN. )

    Do you really think when you apply for that job online via the outsourced web/HR firm that your data is kept confidential?!

    Aside from protecting myself from petty criminals (like publishing my SSN and DOB), I have pretty resided that my information is freely available to government and corporate interests and there is not a goddamn thing I can do about it.

    It's big business to pimp our data so that they configure out how to sell us more shit and how much they can charge for their shit.

    My only hope is that the CFPB will use this data wisely and find bank mistakes in our favor and order them to correct it.

  • Want privacy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tsprig ( 167046 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:19PM (#46114939)

    ... become Amish.

  • by laird ( 2705 ) <lairdp@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:20PM (#46114947) Journal

    While it's creepy, in the US your credit card transaction is not private - it's collected by credit card companies and massively data mined (and has been for decades) for direct marketing, credit scoring, etc., used by companies to sell products to consumers and to drive them as deeply as possible into debt.

    The only "news" here is that the government is data mining to benefit consumers rather than to exploit them. That's clearly crossing the line.

  • Oh look.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:22PM (#46114969)

    Republicans have discovered another way to shut down the government: just prevent it from collecting any data required to do its job.

    Regulatory agency needs to collect data on credit cards to determine whether credit card providers are up to illegal shenanigans, or what kind of regulations are too little, just right, or overkill? Tell them that they're like the NSA, need to be shut down and the bureaucrats strung up high.

    I'm wondering when they will apply this to healthcare and the IRS. What better way from preventing them from operating than to deny them access to any data? Bonuspoint: Republicans get to point out how ineffective the Federal Government is, and how it should all just be dismantled.

    No promise is more self-fulfilling than that of a government official who insists that government is bad. It's the only position where doing a horrible job actually gets you a promotion. And I don't mean that in the cynical, "the-sheep-don't-know-who-they're-voting" way, I mean that quite literally: some Republicans go into office to demonstrate how bad government is, do all kinds of things that destroys the ability of the government to do anything (hello government shutdown...), and then go back to their constituents and say "See how bad government is? I was right! Vote for me!"

  • Re:Biased Much? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:22PM (#46114979) Homepage Journal

    In order to regulate credit card companies and banks, the CFPB needs to know what is happening with these financial products.

    And that requires 96 data points, some of which obviously have nothing to do with the financial products themselves, but rather uniquely identify the individuals who hold said financial products?

    My ass.

  • Give me a break (Score:4, Insightful)

    by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:26PM (#46115011) Journal

    These two things are nothing alike. This sounds like a Republican attempt to induce some guilt by association for the CFPB, which they hate so much.

    First, there's the fact that we're hearing about this in a Congressional hearing directly from agency personnel, with numerous details. As opposed to having agency personnel lie directly to Congress, and that only after a leak.

    Second, why do we think the CFPB is collecting this information? Um, probably to see if credit card and mortgage companies are engaging in predatory lending practices, or abiding by regulations, or to better understand consumer financial behavior in the U.S. You know, things within their mandate. As opposed to the NSA, which has no business dealing with domestic intelligence.

    Now there are legitimate concerns about the quality of anonymization, why they can't use a sampling technique, who the contractor is, and what federal agencies should have access to the data. Note that these are everyday issues that the U.S. Census Bureau and the IRS deal with all the time.

    Not surprising to see this coming from the Washington Examiner, which if you don't know, is DC's right-leaning daily.

  • by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:40PM (#46115151) Homepage

    It takes that many cards to hold all the debt an average American family has []

    That's crazy high!

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:48PM (#46115251) Homepage Journal

    Yes because when the government collects census data it's for evil!

    So.. do you not know the difference between "voluntary" and "compulsory"?

    Surely you're not so dense as to fail to recognize the difference between voluntary trade with a company that can't harm your liberty, and compulsory data-mining from a government that can?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:53PM (#46115305)

    Because I believe people have a right to privacy and that governments and corporations shouldn't be tracking everything we do or buy. That simple. The fact that you're willing to trade all this way in exchange for the ability to make "informed social economic decisions" speaks volumes about how principled you are.

    My concept of privacy is, as you can imagine, different from the government's, so don't give me nonsense about the status quo.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:54PM (#46115323)

    somebody who doesn't want to bother wasting a perfectly good tshirt, and needs something to wear when cleaning out gutters or painting a house.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @06:55PM (#46115329)

    While it's creepy, in the US your credit card transaction is not private

    Are you saying, given a name I could arbitrarily pull up credit transactions for that person?

    I do not think so. The fact that I cannot means that data is private.

    Now credit card company can share that data with whoever it likes - in private - so long as I agree to that, which we all do in credit card agreements. But just because there is a subset of people who can see it, does not mean it is not private...

    Nor does it mean that a federal agency should be able to see transaction by transaction history for every single person in the U.S. They could do the job they need to with a much broader and filtered overview of data.

  • Re:Want privacy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hebertrich ( 472331 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @07:00PM (#46115371)

    man .. the americans are so fu**** coming and going it's a wonder they do not take arms and revolt.
    sheep . little tiny babies with no balls to end this .they simply roll over and ask for more.

    America is pathetic beyond belief.

  • by Kasar ( 838340 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @07:03PM (#46115403)
    The difference between private companies gathering data to create files and profiles on people is that they lack the legal standing of government. They can't arrest anyone based on a suspicion of anything, even if that a person is a deadbeat, while the government doesn't need a warrant or any specific law violation under the NDAA to incarcerate a person indefinitely.

    Alternatively, tie the financial with the capture and collection of all electronic communications and interactions, and finding dirt on anyone who becomes a political opponent or a valuable blackmail target becomes easier for those with access.

    /tinfoil hat off
  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @07:56PM (#46115763) Homepage
    You are right, spying is not the best word. This is untargetted mass surveillance. "Spying" implies something more targetted.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN