The United States has the most advanced economy and financial services sector
in the world, in part because of the free information principles on which it
is based. Sharing of information allows companies to make better judgements
about what products to offer consumers, to whom they should be offered, and so on.
The benefits of freedom of information in the financial services sector include
reduced risk of fraud, improved
customer service, lower cost
of credit, better prices and special offers, and
reduced junk mail.
The financial services industry is under a legal obligation to protect the
privacy of consumers. They can be sued under the tort laws if they do not.
This legal regime — allowing freedom of information, but punishing harmful use of
information — protects consumers while allowing for innovation in ways that
administrative regulation can not.
Any proposal to regulate freedom of information in the financial services
industry should protect the ability of consumers to enjoy the benefits of shared
information. Consumers alone should make these choices. They should not be based
on the guesses of politicians, bureaucrats, or "consumer advocates" about what
Credit Information Reporting: Why Free Speech is Vital to Social Accountability
and Consumer Opportunity by Professor Daniel B. Klein, Santa Clara