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CFPB’s data-mining on consumer credit cards challenged in heated House hearing

(WASHINGTON EXAMINER)   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.

“This is one step closer to a Big Brother form of government where they know everything about us,” said Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.

At a Wednesday hearing before the House Financial Services Committee chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, CFPB Director Richard Cordray defended the data-mining practice and said his agency is monitoring credit card usage at 110 banks, including Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, Discover and American Express.

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