Consumer Financial Protection Bureau officials are seeking to monitor four out of every five U.S. consumer credit card transactions this year - up to 42 billion transactions - through a controversial data-mining program, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner. A CFPB strategic planning document for fiscal years 2013-17 describes the "markets monitoring" program through which officials aim to monitor 80 percent of all credit card transactions in 2013. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 1.16 billion consumer credit cards were in use in 2012 for an estimated 52.6 billion transactions. If CFPB officials reach their stated "performance goal," they would collect data on 42 billion transactions made with 933 million credit cards used by American consumers. In addition, CFPB officials hope to monitor up to 95 percent of all mortgage transactions, according to the planning document.Defenders of both the NSA and now the CFPB data mining efforts claim to avoid collection of personally identifiable information. Yet the issue that advocates of these programs miss is that, at a certain point, aggregated data about a person's contacts, how long they spoke, how often they spoke, where they were when they spoke, what vendor they purchased items from, and when they purchased, reveals much more information than many Americans would be comfortable or that which would be consistent with the Constitution. And to what end? Effective bad actors know that electronic movements leave footprints, thus they employ cash, use internet anonymizers, pre-paid, no-contract phones, hawala, etc., to cloak what they do. Thus those who do leave electronic footprints are precisely not the threat that the watchers should worry about. This, coupled with the fact that all this surveillance, all this surrendering of privacy, has failed in its stated mission to preserve the safety of the American public....and that is before one considers questions of who watches the watchers, when we know that both the watchers themselves--as well as anyone appointed to watch them--are flawed and corruptible beings operating within an imperfect system designed by the flawed and corruptible.
The Dodd-Frank Act, which established CFPB, bars the bureau from collecting personally identifiable financial information on consumers and prohibits it from regulating practicing attorneys
Duffy said CFPB was trying to gain access to nearly 1 billion credit card users in 2013.
"The agency has never given us a number of how many Americans have been surveilled. However, we've seen in their disclosures they are collecting 80 percent of credit cards in America, 1.16 billion credit cards, which means that they are collecting information on just under a billion credit cards in America. That's a scary number," Duffy said.
The CFPB strategic plan shows that in 2012, the bureau was able to gain access to 77 percent of all credit cards and hoped to increase that to 80 percent in 2013. By 2014, the agency also hopes to monitor up to 95 percent of all mortgage transactions.
I for one do not think that the Founders would find this burgeoning electronic Panopticon agreeable, and do not relish a future in which a clandestine, secretive constabulary monitor my or anyone else's lawful actions, ready to pounce upon things they find disagreeable. Particularly so when we already have evidence that State powers have used to suppress the Cathedral's political opponents.
Update: Seems that the NSA, already quite busy, has also been feeding Israel sigint about persons in the United States. Reportedly, the NSA hopes that Israel will "respect the privacy of US persons", but as there is no written agreement or treaty, there is little to stop Israeli intelligence services from abusing the privacy of Americans as much or more than the NSA itself already has. (ht Simon Grey)