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Argument: 2010 financial reform exposes sensitive information

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"Big Brother loves 'financial reform'" Washington Times Editorial. April 30th, 2010: "The legislation, sponsored by Senate banking committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, would create the innocuously named Office of Financial Research as a central repository for transaction-related records held by financial companies. According to proponents, "decision-makers" like Mr. Geithner need up-to-the-minute information to act in order to prevent what they refer to as another Wall Street meltdown. The proposed agency would also provide statistical analysis and research, purportedly to monitor systemic risk to the financial system.

[...] the details of the proposal show that this new agency's mission is not meant to be limited to improving the quality of financial data. Mr. Dodd's legislation would grant the agency director the coercive power of subpoena to obtain records and rulemaking authority to force private-sector firms to maintain their internal financial records in a format acceptable to the government. The legislation also grants sweeping authority to maintain a data center that would collect and maintain "all data necessary" to carry out the director's wishes. Needless to say, the government's history of losing hard drives and laptops filled with sensitive information suggests entrusting more to a federal agency is not a smart idea.

Of more concern is how the proposed law treats government employees with legal access to this gold mine of information. Bureaucrats would be allowed to exploit their knowledge of market conditions as private-sector consultants one year after leaving the agency. Not only would individuals who had such privileged access to confidential information command a high price in the private sector, they also would be equally rewarded while employed at public expense."

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