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On March 7, the CFPB and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) entered into an information sharing agreement to create a formal partnership for addressing unlawful practices involving employer surveillance and employer driven debt. The agencies stressed in the joint announcement that their Memorandum of Understanding will help identify and end employer practices that cause workers to incur debt by forcing them to pay for employer-mandated training or equipment that they might not need, or that surveil workers and sell their personal data to financial institutions, insurers, and other employers. These actions, the agencies said, may violate the FCRA and other consumer financial protection laws. As previously covered by InfoBytes, last June the Bureau launched an inquiry into employer-driven debt practices. The request for information focused on debt obligations incurred by consumers in the context of an employment or independent contractor arrangement, and sought information on “prevalence, pricing and other terms of the obligations, disclosures, dispute resolution, and the servicing and collection of these debts.”
“Many workers discover that getting a job can mean piling up debt instead of making a living,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in the announcement. “Information sharing with the [NLRB] will support our efforts to end debt traps that stop workers from leaving one job for another.” NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo agreed, adding that as the “economy, industries and workplaces continue to change, we are excited to work with CFPB to strengthen our whole-of-government approach and ensure that employers obey the law and workers are able to fully and freely exercise their rights without interference or adverse consequences.”
On August 25, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cybersecurity Cooperation with the Ministry of Finance of the State of Israel (MOF). According to Treasury, the MOU “builds on U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo’s visit to Israel in November 2021 that established a bilateral partnership to protect critical infrastructure in the financial sector and recognized the importance of deepening cooperation on cybersecurity to protect the integrity of the international financial system.” While noting that Treasury has a “long-standing cybersecurity information sharing relationship” with MOF, the announcement stated that the MOU “formalizes and strengthens the close partnership between both agencies.” Specifically, the MOU enhanced collaboration in: (i) information sharing relating to the financial sector including cybersecurity information on incidents and threats; (ii) staff training and study visits to promote cooperation in the area of cybersecurity; and (iii) competency-building activities such as the conduct of cross-border cybersecurity exercises.
Recently, the FCC announced that it entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to develop a global and coordinated approach for addressing unlawful automated telephone calls. According to the MOU, the FCC and CRTC understand that it is in their common public interest to, among other things: (i) “cooperate with respect to the enforcement against Covered Violations, including sharing complaints and other relevant information and providing investigative assistance”; (ii) “facilitate research and education related to unlawful robocalls and caller ID spoofing”; (iii) “facilitate mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise through training programs and staff exchanges”: (iv) encourage awareness of economic and legal conditions and theories related to the enforcement of applicable laws as identified in Annex 1 to the MOU; and (v) update each other regarding developments related to the MOU in their respective countries in a timely manner. In a related statement, FCC acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel noted that robocall scamming is an “international problem,” and that it is “critical that we work closely with partners like our colleagues in Canada who share our commitment to fighting robocall scams and unmasking the bad actors behind them.”
On July 19, the FTC announced that it is joining with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (collectively, “Parties”) in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) intended to protect workers by promoting competitive U.S. labor markets and putting an end to unfair practices that harm workers in the “gig economy” and other labor markets. The MOU provides ways for the Parties to work together to address key issues, such as labor market concentration, one-sided contract terms, and labor developments in the gig economy. According to the MOU, the Parties recognize that ongoing interagency collaboration regarding “issues of common regulatory interest will help to protect workers against unfair methods of competition, unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and unfair labor practices.” The MOU also provides that the Parties will facilitate: (i) “information sharing and cross-agency consultations on an ad hoc basis for official law enforcement purposes, in a manner consistent with and permitted by the laws and regulations that govern the Parties”; (ii) “cross-agency training to educate each Party about the laws and regulations enforced by the other Party”; and (iii) “coordinated outreach and education as appropriate.” According to the FTC, the MOU “is part of a broader FTC initiative to use the agency’s full authority[.]” The announcement also described the FTC’s recent efforts to root out deceptive and unfair acts and practices aimed at workers, “particularly those in the ‘gig economy’ who often don’t enjoy the full protections of traditional employment relationship.”
On August 23, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Monetary Authority of Singapore finalized a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cybersecurity cooperation. The MOU formalizes and strengthens a strong cybersecurity partnership between the two countries and, among other things, enhances cooperation in the following areas: (i) “[i]nformation sharing relating to the financial sector including cybersecurity regulations and guidance, cybersecurity incidents, and cybersecurity threat intelligence”; (ii) “[s]taff training and study visits to promote cooperation in the area of cybersecurity”; and (iii) “[c]ompetency-building activities such as the conduct of cross-border cybersecurity exercises.” According to Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, the MOU serves “to improve the cyber resilience of both countries’ financial systems.”
On August 16, the SEC and the European Central Bank (ECB) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) intended to facilitate the consultation, cooperation, and exchange of information connected with the supervision, enforcement, oversight, and inspection of certain security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap entities in EU member states registered with the SEC and supervised by the ECB. These include SEC-registered security-based swap entities participating in the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), the EU’s system of banking supervision, which “is composed of the ECB and the relevant national competent authorities of participating EU Member States.” Among other things, the MOU will “support the SEC’s oversight of the operation of substituted compliance orders that the Commission has issued for security-based swap entities in France and Germany, as well as any future substituted compliance orders for such firms in other EU Member States that participate in the SSM,” to enable an entity to comply with certain Dodd-Frank Act requirements by complying with comparable EU and EU Member State laws. The MOU, which is intended to “foster cooperation” and exchange information between the authorities, states that at the date of execution, “no bank secrecy, blocking laws, or other regulations or legal barriers, should prevent an Authority from providing assistance to the other Authority pursuant to this MOU, or otherwise adversely affect or hinder the operation of this MOU.”
On August 12, HUD announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FHFA regarding fair housing and fair lending coordination. The MOU—a “first-of-its-kind collaborative agreement”—will expire in December 2025, and is intended to enhance enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the agencies’ oversight of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. According to HUD, the agencies “anticipate that the MOU will lead to stronger oversight that will help advance vigorous fair housing enforcement that can begin to redress our nation’s history of discriminatory housing practices.”
On June 3, the FCC announced that it entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on providing mutual assistance in the enforcement of laws on certain unlawful communications, such as robocall, robotexts, and “spoofing.” FCC Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel noted that “[r]obocall scams are a global problem that require global commitment and cooperation” and that coordinating with ACMA can aid in removing scammers off of networks to protect consumers and businesses. ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin noted that the agreement strengthens the existing relationship between the ACMA and the FCC in the regulation of unsolicited communications. According to the MOU, the FCC and ACMA understand that it is in their common public interest to, among other things: (i) “cooperate with respect to the enforcement against Covered Violations, including sharing complaints and other relevant information and providing investigative assistance”; (ii) enable “research and education related to unlawful robocalls and caller ID spoofing or overstamping”; (iii) “facilitate mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise through training programs and staff exchanges”: (iv) encourage awareness of economic and legal conditions and theories related to the enforcement of applicable laws as identified in Annex 1 to the MOU; and (v) update each other regarding developments related to the MOU in their respective countries in a timely manner.
On January 27, California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced that it entered into memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with five earned wage access (EWA) companies. According to DFPI, the MOUs represent the first agreements of their kind between fintechs and a state regulator, and are intended to “pave a path so [EWA] companies can continue operating in California, in advance of possible registration under the California Consumer Financial Protection Law [CCFPL], which took effect this year and defines the companies as newly covered financial services.” (Buckley Special Alert coverage on the CCFPL available here.) The five EWA companies represent two advance pay models: “an employer-based model which offers early access to wages in partnership with an employer as a benefit and a direct-to-consumer model which does not require employer participation.”
Under the terms of the MOUs, the companies have agreed to deliver quarterly reports providing DFPI with a better understanding of their products and services, as well as the risks and benefits to consumers in the state. Reports will include information concerning “changes to consumer contracts, fees to consumers, consumer complaints, the average number of advances per month, duration before consumer payback, and the number of consumers making no repayment, partial repayments, or requesting cancellations or deferrals, among other stipulations.” The companies have also agreed to regular periodic DFPI examinations and are required to follow industry best practices, including by, among other things, (i) not offering any financial products that are “contingent on any tips the consumer chooses to make or does not make”; (ii) complying with TILA by limiting annual percentage rates on advanced funds to 36 percent; (iii) disclosing to consumers any potential fees that may be assessed prior to advancing the funds; (iv) limiting the amount of funds advanced to a consumer to no more than 50 percent of the consumer’s next paycheck; and (v) allowing consumers to revoke EFT authorization up to three days before a scheduled repayment date.
As previously covered by InfoBytes, last November the CFPB issued an advisory opinion on EWA products, which clarified that “a Covered EWA Program does not involve the offering or extension of ‘credit’” under Regulation Z, which implements TILA. The Bureau noted that the “totality of circumstances of a Covered EWA Program supports that these programs differ in kind from products the Bureau would generally consider to be credit.”
On January 14, the CFPB announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NCUA, which is intended to improve supervision coordination of credit unions with over $10 billion in assets. According to the Bureau’s press release, the MOU covers (i) the sharing of the Covered Reports of Examination and final Reports of Examination for covered institutions, using secure, two-way electronic means; (ii) collaboration in semi-annual strategy planning sessions for examination coordination; (iii) information sharing on training activities and content; and (iv) information sharing related to potential enforcement actions.