This week, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing to look into how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) collects and uses consumer data. The hearing featured testimony from Mr. Steven Antonakes, the Acting Deputy Director of the CFPB. One of the most controversial parts of the Dodd-Frank legislation passed in 2010, the CFPB operates with an unlimited budget and almost no congressional oversight. Currently, they are collecting personal information of people who contact them, including their names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth.
During the hearing, Congressman Westmoreland questioned Mr. Antonakes about how many people had access to this information.
Westmoreland: "How many people have access to this [information]?"
Antonakes: "I'd have to get back to you with a precise number."
Westmoreland: "You don't know?"
Antonakes: "I don't know the precise number."
Westmoreland: "I think it's pretty unusual that you wouldn't know how many people have access to this."
When Congressman Westmoreland pressed further to find out what type of people at the CFPB had access to this extremely sensitive information, once again Mr. Antonakes had no answers.
"What we found out today is that the CFPB has all of this very personal information -- and we are talking about people's names, their Social Security numbers, their home addresses, their birthdates -- and the CFPB has no idea how many people have access to this information and doesn't appear to require their employees who handle this information to get a security clearance," stated Westmoreland. "It's absolutely chilling, especially when you add in the fact that this agency has an unlimited budget and almost no oversight. The CFPB was supposedly established to protect American consumers, but it seems to be playing fast and loose with their personal information -- with little concern about the consequences."