The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed a set of rules in October that would significantly change the way financial institutions handle personal data about their customers. This move would effectively put the control of customer data back in the hands of ordinary Americans, while simultaneously undermining the data broker economy and increasing customer choice and competition. In addition to these economic implications, these rules are likely to have significant data security benefits.
These proposed rules from the CFPB are in line with the decoupling principle, which emphasizes the separation of which companies can access specific types of data in particular contexts. This approach empowers individuals to have better control over their data, thus improving privacy while also fortifying cloud infrastructure against potential hacks.
Rohit Chopra, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has expressed a desire to see the rules finalized by this fall after receiving comments on the proposed regulations during the initial comment period last year.
Currently, countless data brokers have access to individuals’ purchasing habits when they use credit cards or apply for loans or mortgages. These data are often shared with unknown third parties, with individuals having no choice or oversight of who can access this sensitive information. The CFPB’s proposed rules aim to provide individuals with free access to their financial data, along with the ability to control who gets access to such information and choose their financial service providers.
One of the key implications of these rules is the potential restructuring of the consumer finance landscape and the underground data economy that currently exists. By shifting to a decoupling-based approach, financial services firms can comply with the proposed rules, providing more secure access to customer data.
From the financial industry’s perspective, there will be an increased focus on using APIs for software to ensure that data can be accessed in a standardized and secure manner. The proposed rules would disrupt the current data broker economy, where companies profit from the sale of consumer data and provide services to protect it.
Moreover, these rules could significantly impact credit agencies and data brokers that rely on income streams from selling consumer data and providing services that safeguard against data misuse. By giving consumers greater control over their financial information, the role of these agencies would be reduced to their core function of assessing the risk of borrowers.
The proposed rules are also expected to introduce more competition and choice into the financial services industry, where a small number of large banks and credit reporting agencies currently dominate the market. By eliminating many income streams for credit agencies and data brokers, these rules aim to increase competition, potentially leading to more responsible and affordable financial service providers for consumers.
Furthermore, the CFPB’s push for greater standardization and openness in financial data coupled with mechanisms for consumer privacy is expected to eliminate many gatekeepers in the industry. This shift could lead to a decreased concentration of control and economic power, ultimately fostering increased competition.
If the CFPB’s rule is successfully implemented, it will represent a significant step to enhance competition, privacy, and security in the financial industry. However, the essay also highlights that more regulatory frameworks are needed to give consumers greater control of their data and to drive further adoption of technologies that secure personal data.