Politics

Curtains For Operation Choke Point

Operation Choke Point has been choked off.

According to various sources (including Fox News), the Trump administration’s Justice Department has decided to shut down Operation Choke Point, the controversial program that sought to curtail credit access and thus eCommerce activity for some industries, notably gun dealers and short-term lenders.

Operation Choke Point traces its genesis to the Obama administration. The official shutdown was conveyed via letter from an assistant attorney general and comes after, as Fox noted, some House Republicans had urged U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shutter the consumer protection program.

In an Aug. 16 letter to Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general, wrote that Operation Choke Point represented a “misguided initiative conducted during the previous administration” and that “we share your view that law-abiding businesses should not be targeted simply for operating in an industry that a particular administration might disfavor.”

Boyd continued, saying that “we reiterate that the Department will not discourage the provision of financial services to lawful industries, including businesses engaged in short-term lending and firearms-related activities.” Further, the letter stated that the Operation brought with it guidelines, that, through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), classified several merchants as “elevated risk” enterprises (more prone to fraudulent activity such as cybercrime), including firearms dealers and some short-term lending companies.

The elevated risk classification has been withdrawn by the FDIC, an action supported by the Department of Justice (DOJ). All bank investigations concerning cybercrime tied to Operation Choke Point, said Boyd in the letter, undertaken by the Justice Department, have now been closed and will not be re-opened.

Goodlatte and other Republicans had written earlier in the week to the Department with a request that the DOJ “repudiate” the aforementioned eCommerce consumer protection guidelines offered up by Operation Choke Point.

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