Public Comments: WPF files comments urging the SEC to protect asset-level data privacy of consumers

The World Privacy Forum submitted comments to the Securities and Exchange Commission today requesting that the SEC do more to protect the privacy of consumers’ asset information. Asset information — the financial information attached to mortgages, car loans, and other consumer borrowing activities– is very attractive to the consumer data industry. We would be happier with the current SEC proposal if it were practical to keep all sensitive asset-level data under the direct control of the Commission or, perhaps, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Direct involvement by a federal agency, while no guarantee of a better outcome for data subjects, would provide better and clearer accountability for maintenance of the data as well as the possibility of meaningful enforcement.

The comments outline concerns that the Fair Credit Reporting Act cannot serve as an umbrella of protection for asset-level data. Some of this asset information will reveal directly a most desired class of data, namely actual income data for individuals and households. The consumer data industry sometimes has approximate income data, limited salary data, and other proxies for income, but complete income data can be hard to obtain. Asset-level data is highly desirable, and highly desirable data will attract consumer data industry users as well as identity thieves.

Consumers who have their specific asset level data revealed by the SEC need certainty of privacy protections.

In the comments, WPF urged the SEC to use Fair Information Principles as a guidepost, as well as specifically use the tool of detailed data use agreements to control information use after collection and to specifically protect detailed consumer asset information from becoming fodder for use in eligibility. credit, insurance, consumer scoring, or other purposes.