What just happened? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has ordered several of the largest tech companies in the US to hand over information about how they use personal payments data and manage access to consumers’ payment information so the agency can ensure consumers are being adequately protected.
Request were initially sent to Apple, Amazon, Facebook, PayPal, Google and Square, the bureau said, and are pursuant to Section 1022(c)(4) of the Consumer Financial Protection Act.
Specifically, the bureau believes the information will provide insight into data harvesting and monetization practices. It’s possible, for example, that some big tech companies could be sharing payment data across product lines or selling information to data brokers and other third parties to help with ad and behavior targeting.
The orders also aim to identify any restrictive access policies that could affect consumer choice and stifle innovation. For example, consumers want to know that everything is being done to protect them from fraud and payments made in error, to have access to responsive customer service and to be treated equally under the law.
The Wall Street Journal reached out to each of the companies listed above. Spokespeople for Google, Amazon and Facebook declined to comment, while reps for Apple, PayPal and Square failed to respond to the request for comment before the publication’s deadline.
The bureau said it will also look into the payment system practices of several Chinese tech titans including WeChat Pay and Alipay.
A deadline for tech giants to respond was not made publicly available.
Image credit Jonas Leupe, Karolina Grabowska