Turning the CFPB Into a Crowd-Sourced Wiki

This is promising.  This is a more extended version of a vision of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Elizabeth Warren discussed at Netroots Nation. David Dayen has the info:

“It’s also about how we will receive information about how the world works,” [Warren] said. “It’s about how people will tell us about what is happening. I want you to think about this more like ‘heat maps’ for targeted zip codes where problems are emerging, or among certain demographic groups, or among certain issuers,” Warren said in her still-not-decorated office.

Essentially, she wants the CFPB to run like a blog. When TPM collects stories from their audience on how Social Security privatization is playing across the country, or when I ask for stories on individual struggles with HAMP, that’s essentially crowd-sourcing. Warren wants to put the power of the federal government behind that.

SIGTARP already has hotlines set up for, among other things, HAMP, and they have collected a wealth of information through that, all in their excellent TARP report here. And individual Congressional offices get information like this through constituent service. Warren seeks to coordinate that and make it easier to contact the government when a mortgage lender or a bank rips you off.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes good regulation. Giving people the tools to flag trouble is going to be better than asking a handful of underpaid regulators to watch the entire country. Information can be shared, researchers and experts deployed. Things like the servicer abuse problems we’ve seen across the country would have a mechanism to both aggregate information, share strategies, and ultimately call someone who is in a position to make people accountable, rather than hoping the OCC breaks its “never going to actually regulate servicers” edge.

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One Response to Turning the CFPB Into a Crowd-Sourced Wiki

  1. Laurence says:

    It’s a decent idea. But we need to balance the short-termism inherent in things like blogs, with structured evaluation schedules. It can’t just be reactive, since then you might miss latent long-term problems.

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