The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has launched an inquiry into companies that track and collect information on people’s personal lives.
In issuing this new Request for Information, the CFPB wants to understand the full scope and breadth of data brokers and their business practices, their impact on the daily lives of consumers, and whether they are all playing by the same rules. This request is a chance for the public to share feedback about companies that play a significant role in people’s lives and in the economy. This feedback will shed light on the current state of an industry that largely operates out of public view, and inform the CFPB’s future work to ensure that these companies comply with federal law.
“Modern data surveillance practices have allowed companies to hover over our digital lives and monetize our most sensitive data,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Our inquiry will inform whether rules under the Fair Credit Reporting Act reflect these market realities.”
Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in response to concerns about data brokers assembling detailed dossiers about consumers and selling this information to those making employment, credit, and other decisions. People often have little choice about whether to enter into business relationships with these companies or whether they will be tracked, yet the data these companies collect may nevertheless play a decisive role in significant life decisions, like buying a home or finding a job. The FCRA provides a range of protections, including accuracy standards, dispute rights, and restrictions on how data can be used. The law covers data brokers like credit reporting companies and background screening firms, as well as those who report information to these firms.
The inquiry seeks information about business practices employed in the market today to inform the CFPB’s efforts to administer the law, including planned rulemaking under the FCRA. The CFPB is interested in hearing about the business models and practices of the data broker market, including details about the types of data the brokers collect and sell and the sources they rely upon. The feedback received will help the CFPB gain a better understanding about the current state of business practices in this area.
The CFPB is also interested in hearing about people’s direct experiences with these companies, including when individuals attempt to remove, correct, or regain control of their data.
The request for information will be published in the Federal Register, and the public will have until June 13, 2023 to submit their comments.