November 6, 2018

Are Banks That Engage in Political Activism Really 'Private'?

Brian Knight

Director of Innovation and Governance

Private firms are becoming increasingly vocal about public policy issues, and are well within their rights to do it. However problems arise when firms aren’t as “private” as they seem. Take banks—whose business model is uniquely linked to the government — which seek to limit customers’ access to services in the name of corporate social responsibility.

Following the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Citibank and Bank of America stated they would withhold certain financial services from firearms businesses that do not meet their own requirements about which products should be sold. Additionally, banks are talking about tracking credit card purchases used for firearms, possibly as a precursor to banning them.