Hallelujia! We’ll now have another “Reform!” law — this one designed to “reform” our “financial services” industry to prevent any further meltdowns such as that which struck in 2008 and continues to cripple segments of our economy two years later. The president himself could hardly contain his hyperbole in describing the legislation he is today set to sign into law; he calls it “innovative” and “creative.” Yet, lurking within its hundreds of pages of fine print, are provisions that will essentially destroy what little financial privacy remains for virtually every consumer of financial services in the country. In that respect, yes, the legislation certainly is ”creative”; but that is one kind of creativity we can do without.
But it’s really too late. Thanks to this financial services “reform” law, federal bureaucrats will have ready access to virtually every financial transaction that will take place in the country — from the largest bank acquisition to the smallest ATM withdrawal. The guise under which federal regulators will be able to gather and data-base such detailed financial transaction information will be the responsibility given them in this new law to ensure that every “financial product or service” is “fair, transparent and competitive.” And, of course, the reasoning goes, in order for the government to figure out if the system is running “fairly, transparently and competitively,” it has to be able to monitor all the myriad services and transactions which banks and other financial services entities offer.
Does it give you a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that your private financial transactions will be collected by a new “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection?” Are your fears about the government being able to data-base all such information allayed because the law includes language purporting to prohibit the government from gathering certain financial records if its purpose for collecting the data on individuals’ financial transactions is specifically to “gather” or “analyze” “personally identifiable financial information of consumers?” Such language may give the impression that the masses of financial information now authorized to be collected and data-based by the government will be “privacy-protected”; but the reality is that such language, offered by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in a last-minute attempt to protect consumers from just this threat, is little more than a fig leaf.
The bottom line here is that behind this facade of “financial service reform” is perhaps the single biggest threat to an individual citizen’s financial privacy since the birth of the IRS.