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Apple, Google, Amazon Probed by Biden Consumer Finance Watchdog (1)

Oct. 20, 2021, 7:17 PMUpdated: Oct. 20, 2021, 9:11 PM

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is set to demand information about how Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Google, Amazon Inc. and other technology firms harvest, use and market consumer financial data, according to two sources close to the matter.

The bureau is expected to announce the demands, which come in the form of 55 questions, as early as Thursday, said the industry sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.

Square Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc. are also expected to receive the information demands, the sources said.

The CFPB declined to comment.

The information demand comes a little more than a week after Rohit Chopra was sworn in as the CFPB’s director and as the agency implements open banking provisions from President Biden’s July executive order on competition.

The CFPB’s decision to demand information from tech giants instead of issuing a more routine request for information (RFI) public notice could be a signal of the agency’s intentions to move quickly on rulemaking. It also shows Chopra’s willingness to use aggressive tactics during his tenure at the CFPB.

Biden’s July 9 directive strongly encourages the CFPB to issue Dodd-Frank Act regulations that would make it easier for consumers to share and transfer their bank data to other banks and outside apps, such as PayPal’s Venmo or Google Pay.

After years of studying the issue, the CFPB began crafting rules in late 2020 that would cover consumer privacy, data breach liability, and how much information can be shared in open banking.

Chopra, as a Democratic member of the Federal Trade Commission during the Trump Administration, unsuccessfully pushed for tougher penalties against large technology companies. He was confirmed as CFPB director last month.

He told senators during his confirmation hearings that promoting competitive financial markets is an overlooked part of the CFPB’s founding statute.

“Dominant players should not be able to squelch out competition, and that’s something we need to always be mindful of,” Chopra told the Senate Banking Committee in March.

—With assistance from Lydia Beyoud

(Updates with CFPB decline to comment in fourth paragraph )

To contact the reporter on this story: Evan Weinberger in New York at eweinberger@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at mferullo@bloomberglaw.com; Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com

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