"Under the Dodd bill, the Office of Financial Research could monitor every economic activity in the country."—Bill Wilson, President of ALG.
May 5th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today blasted provisions of the Dodd financial takeover bill that "put the 'preservation of financial stability' ahead of an individual's right to privacy."
"This is basically the creation of a financial intelligence agency to monitor all economic activity in the country without regards to an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, and it must be stopped," Wilson declared.
Wilson pointed to provisions establishing an Office of Financial Research (OFR) and those allowing a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to monitor every bank account in the country as "going way too far into areas the government has no business, nor any constitutional authority to implement, giving the government the power to monitor every financial transaction in the country."
According to the American Spectator, a Senate committee source stated, "As we read this legislation, the CFPB could mine for whatever data they want, bank card activities of a subset of American citizens, credit card debt and payment patterns, who is spending money on whatever… And if the business community isn't already scared out of their minds, they should be."
According to the bill, the OFR would be tasked with the power to "collect, validate, and maintain all data necessary" to maintain financial stability. The OFR would obtain information from "member agencies, commercial data providers, publicly available data sources, and financial entities."
Wilson said "The OFR could monitor banks, large and small, and would possess an unlimited authority to monitor all financial activities, including deposits, withdrawals, account transfers, and trading by investors, large and small, through stock exchanges, securities exchanges, commodities exchanges, and the like.
"In short, under the Dodd bill, the OFR could monitor every economic activity in the country," Wilson explained.
The OFR could "require the submission of periodic and other reports from any financial company for the purpose of assessing the extent to which a financial activity or financial market in which the financial company participates, or the financial company itself, poses a threat to the financial stability of the United States."
The Director of the office would be given subpoena power to require "the production of the data requested" of an entity upon a written declaration by the Director of the OFR.
"All the Director of the OFR would need to do is cite that the information requested was necessary for the maintenance of financial stability," Wilson explained.
According to the bill, the OFR would be tasked with "collecting data on behalf of the Council, and providing such data to the [Financial Stability] Council and member agencies… [and] making the results of the Office available to financial regulatory agencies."
The technology and software developed for monitoring the financial system, and the data it produces, would be also shared with the Council and member agencies. The Office will be funded off-budget through assessments levied on the $50 billion and larger financial and non-financial companies supervised by the Federal Reserve.
Wilson said, "Therefore, the Office will have an unlimited budget to put together military-grade technology to monitor the financial system, and whatever activities it wants, including trades, transactions, deposits, and withdrawals."
Wilson concluded, "None of the information the OFR will be gathering will 'protect' anyone; it will only be used to preserve the government's maintenance of power over the financial system. This is just way too much power to vest in government. Not even U.S. intelligence agencies have this much power upon U.S. citizens, and they're tasked with preserving national security and protecting the homeland from actual physical assault."
"'Down a Rabbit Hole:' The Threat Posed by the Dodd Bill to the Private Sector," April 30th, 2010, Americans for Limited Government.
Letter to the U.S. Senate, ALG President Bill Wilson, April 26th, 2010.