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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 07, 2021 • Issue 21:11:01

Readers Speak: Is the CFPB's recent order a wake-up call?

News of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's demand for information from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and PayPal about how they gather and use consumer payment data gave me pause.

I realize the CFPB's stated intent is to protect consumers from privacy breaches, fraud and anticompetitive behavior. I also believe the tech giants named operate in ways that most of us, including lawmakers, don't understand. Indeed, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra stated that big tech companies "are eagerly expanding their empires to gain greater control and insight into our spending habits" but little is known publicly about how these companies "will exploit their payments platforms."

But I can't forget the FTC's overreach with Operation Choke Point, which kept going after ISOs even after the operation was supposedly shut down in 2017. The CFPB said it will study the payment system practices of Chinese tech giants Alipay and WeChat Pay. Is it only a matter of time before the CFPB demands the same of leading acquirers in the United States? Will other federal agencies get involved? Will we have more Operation Choke Point-style action?

I applaud the ETA for speaking out about the industry's efforts to safeguard data and willingness to work with the CFPB. ETA CEO Jodie Kelley said in a press release: “One of the hallmarks of the digital transactions industry is protection of consumer data. From encryption to tokenization, we devote enormous resources to keeping digital transactions secure." She also pointed out that the industry works constantly to detect and address fraud and has "a good story to tell" about its efforts to protect consumer data.

I believe it will take more of us being involved to create a beneficial balance between government and industry. So let's get going.

Raleigh Manning, Merchant Level Salesperson

Balancing freedom and protections

Thank you to Raleigh Manning for sharing his concerns here. What's your take on the interplay between enterprise freedom and limiting harm caused by bad actors? And what's the best way to oversee companies whose inner workings are difficult to comprehend? Share your thoughts at greensheet@greensheet.com. end of article

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