(NaturalNews) A noted legal watchdog group says records it has obtained from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reveals that the federal agency has spent millions on warrantless collection and analysis of Americans' financial data and transactions, and that CFPB contractors may also be required to provide that data to "additional government entities."
Judicial Watch, a group that gained notoriety in the 1990s for its dogged pursuit of President Bill Clinton and his administration for a variety of suspected scandals, said the records were obtained via a request filed under provisions of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was filed April 24 - a day after CFPB Director Richard Cordray provided testimony to the Senate Banking Committee.
'We want all your financial data, all the time'
According to a Judicial Watch press release, the uncovered documents include:
-- Contracts that overlapped, "with multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data as shown in the task list of a contract with Argus Information & Advisory Services LLC worth $2.9 million."
-- An "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity" contract with Experian that's worth up to $8,426,650, "to track daily consumer habits of select individuals without their awareness or consent."
-- A provision that states, "The contractor recognizes that, in performing this requirement, the Contractor may obtain access to non-public, confidential information, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), or proprietary information."
-- Another stipulation that says: "The Contractor may be required to share credit card data collected from the Banks with additional government entities as directed by the Contracting Officer's Representative (COR)."
More from Judicial Watch:
The full extent of the CFPB personal financial data collection program is revealed in a document obtained by Judicial Watch entitled "INDEFINITE-DELIVERY INDEFINITE-QUANTITY (IDIQ) STATEMENT OF WORK." Issued by CFPB Contracting Officer Xiaoling Ang on July 3, 2012, the IDIQ document's stated objective: "The CFPB seeks to acquire and maintain a nationally representative panel of credit information on consumers for use in a wide range of policy research projects... The panel shall be a random sample of consumer credit files obtains from a national database of credit files."
In order to be able to accomplish the objective, the CFPB details the scope of the program in this manner:
-- The panel is to consist of 5 million consumers, as well as joint borrowers, co-signers and authorized users. According to the documents, "The initial panel shall contain 10 years of historical data on a quarterly basis."
-- "The initial sample shall be drawn from current records and historical data appended for that sample as well as additional samples during the intervening years to make the combines sample representative at each point in time."
Since being disclosed during the April Senate hearing, the CFPB's financial data collection program has become highly controversial. At the time of the hearing, Judicial Watch said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has accused the federal agency of violating the law by obtaining account-level information without a court-issued warrant or National Security Letter authorizing it for national security reasons.
'At what point does protection become power or control?'
"The Obama administration's warrantless collection of the private financial information of millions of Americans is mind-blowing. Is there anything that this administration thinks it can't do?" said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "These documents show that the Consumer Financial Protection Board is an out-of-control government agency that threatens the fundamental privacy and financial security of Americans. This is every bit as serious as the controversy over the NSA's activities."
According to the agency's website, "Our mission is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans - whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products."
The agency doesn't say anything about confiscating your vital financial transaction data as necessary to accomplish this mission.
Can you say, "N-S-A?"
"The NSA claims it is protecting you from terrorists," U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-WY, said. "The consumer protection bureau claims it is protecting you from banks. At what point does 'protection' become power or control?"