This Government Agency Needs YOUR Data

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A report issued by the Government Accountability Office has discovered that a federal agency is collecting financial data on millions of Americans and failing to store it securely, The Washington Post reports.

With the release of the report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is scolding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for conglomerating the financial data of millions of Americans, despite the fact that the CFPB has no detailed processes at all for collecting data and assessing security risks.

The massive trove of data includes information on 75 million credit cards and 5.5 million student loans. According to the report, over the last two years, the CFPB has decided to collect data to “detect risks in consumer financial markets.”

And while the CFPB has at least taken steps to anonymize the data by ensuring credit card information cannot be linked to specific individuals, the GAO recommended that the agency consult with the White House for establishing proper security procedures.

Privacy controls are still missing, and there is no mechanism for independent review of privacy concerns. Although the CFPB does scan the data for vulnerabilities, no written procedures exist for how data is stored or protected.

CFPB spokesman Sam Gilford shot back in a statement on Wednesday, in an effort to counter criticisms of the agency. The agency was established in 2011 as a part of Dodd-Frank to protect consumers from financial dangerous, but regardless of the danger here, the collection of financial data is still fully legal for the agency.

“As the report notes, the majority of the large datasets maintained by the CFPB are de-identified, and many of the largest datasets maintained by the CFPB use data procured from commercial aggregators, which is also available for purchase by private companies,” he said. However, the CFPB did agree with the recommendations listed by the GAO.

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