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The Regulatory Week in Review: October 14, 2016

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IN THE NEWS

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an order requiring Navy Federal Credit Union to pay $28.5 million, after the CFPB alleged that Navy Federal—the largest credit union in the country, whose membership includes many active-duty and retired military members—engaged in various deceptive debt-collection practices, including making false threats “when, in fact, it seldom took such actions or did not have authorization to take them.” Navy Federal consented to the CFPB’s order “without admitting or denying any wrongdoing,” and reportedly stated that it has “a long history of helping members when they are making the effort to pay back their loans, and…will continue to do so.”
  • The White House released Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence, a report that discusses the current state of artificial intelligence, how it can be implemented in government, and how to regulate artificial intelligence. In the report, the White House asserts that “rapid progress in the field of specialized artificial intelligence will continue,” and that it expects “that machines will reach and exceed human performance on more and more tasks.” The White House suggested that, in areas that are regulated to protect the public from harm, such as cars and aircraft, an assessment of current regulatory regimes should be undertaken to determine the potential need for new regulations.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule that establishes procedures for whistleblower complaints under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The rule, which comes more than three years after the publishing of an interim final rule, protects workers who report what they believe to be a violation of the ACA, including the denial of coverage due to a preexisting condition, from retaliation. Also barred is retaliation against employees who receive health insurance tax credits, which can result in tax penalties for employers.
  • The U.S. Department of Education released a final rule for teacher preparation programs that is intended to create more transparency around the effectiveness of the programs by requiring states to report placement and retention rates of graduates from the programs, learning outcomes of the students taught by program graduates, and other metrics. Obama administration officials reportedly hope that these changes will improve the rigor of teacher preparation programs.

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK

  • In an issue brief for the Heritage Foundation, Mike Gonzalez criticized proposed standards released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last month that would create a new Middle East and North Africa (MENA) racial category for federal data reporting purposes, and would also change the way Hispanic people select their race. Rejecting OMB’s characterization of the change as a “limited revision” of existing policy, Gonzalez described the proposal as “the most sweeping changes to the nation’s official racial and ethnic categories in decades.” He argued that the rule would “further divide America along ethnic lines” and “perpetuate divisions within the country because it gives people an incentive to identify themselves with minority groups,” due to the possible availability of affirmative action and other economic benefits.
  • In a recent paper, University of Pennsylvania Professor Kevin D. Werbach discussed the issue of “trustless trust” created by use of blockchains—distributed ledger systems that were created to support the digital currency bitcoin. Though blockchains solve some fundamental issues of trust by creating a system that can be trusted regardless of one’s trust in the actors in it, Werbach argues that blockchains create substantial issues of governance, including how blockchains themselves regulate, that are entirely separate from computer science issues.


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