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D.C.-area forecast: Shower odds rise through tonight before a cold front delivers a windy Sunday


A picture-perfect autumn scene along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. (Julie B via Flickr)

TODAY’S DAILY DIGIT
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.

5/10: Somewhat textbook mid-to-late November weather. Not great. Not the worst.

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Mostly cloudy. Some showers, mainly north/west. Highs: 53-57.
Tonight: Occasional rain, turning windy. Lows: Mid-40s to near 50.
Tomorrow: Clearing, windy. Highs: Near 50 to mid-50s.

View the current weather at The Washington Post headquarters.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Fall is a transition season, so changeable weather is often the norm, especially as we start to knock on the door to winter in the Mid-Atlantic. Changes are certainly apparent through the weekend. Today is somewhat milder if also rather cloudy, and in the end it’s not quite as mild as it once looked. Tomorrow, the sun returns, but so does the chilly wind. November.

Listen to the latest forecast:

Get our daily forecasts on your Amazon Alexa device. Click here to find out how.

Today (Saturday): We’re dealing with mostly cloudy skies through the day. Along with the clouds, we’ve got an occasional shower risk. The best time for that seems to be midday and beyond, although a couple of showers could pass through as early as morning. The most persistent activity will try to stay north and west of the Interstate 95 corridor, and perhaps anything south of the Maryland/Pennsylvania border doesn’t amount to a whole lot. Highs should mostly reach the mid-50s. Winds are out of the south and southwest around 10 to 15 mph. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: A cold front is on its way. It should pass in the overnight time frame. During the evening, we’ve still got the somewhat mild winds out of the south. Showers are more numerous after dark and especially overnight. This could be a few tenths of an inch area-wide. Winds eventually turn to a more northerly and northwesterly direction once the front passes. Gusts pick up intensity as we head into and through sunrise. Confidence: Medium-High

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates. For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock. Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend.

Tomorrow (Sunday): Any remnants of clouds should scoot east with the front pretty early. The majority of the day should be sunny and windy. Winds are sustained out of the northwest around 15 to 25 mph, with gusts near or past 35 mph likely. Highs struggling into the 50s feel cooler than that! Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow night: Skies are clear, winds are turning lighter, and the air mass is freshly chilled. It’s the time of year where those nights are freezes for many, at least outside the city. This is no different, as lows range from about the mid-20s to the mid-30s. Confidence: Medium

A LOOK AHEAD

High pressure is really settling in by Monday. It’ll be the dominant feature for much of the holiday week, it seems. That would be great news for travelers if it ends up the case! There’s tons of sun, but it’s still chilly. Highs are mainly in the upper 40s to lower 50s. Confidence: Medium

Sunshine remains dominant (as long as you dismiss that really low sun angle!), and temperatures continue to warm into Tuesday. It might even be a lunch-outside kind of day, with highs rising to right around 60. Winds remain light thanks to that high pressure over our region. Confidence: Medium

Source: Local Weather

PM Update: Cloudier with some showers ahead of a cold front Saturday; windy and cooler Sunday


A nighttime scene in the city. (Joe Flood via Flickr)

Winds calmed down compared with yesterday, but they remained rather feisty today. When you add in temperatures only nearing 50 to low 50s in some spots, it certainly felt cool out there. As fall tends to do, we’ve got a weather seesaw ahead.

Listen to the latest forecast:

Get our daily forecasts on your Amazon Alexa device. Click here to find out how.

Through tonight: An area of high cloudiness rolling by the past couple hours should shift east this evening. That leaves us mostly clear until the next batch of cloudiness arrives, which happens sometime in the pre-dawn hours. Low temperatures settle to near freezing in the cold spots and around 40 in the warm ones.

View the current weather conditions at The Washington Post.

Tomorrow (Saturday): Unfortunately, tomorrow is looking less decent in closing. It’s still not awful, but extra cloudiness and even some rain seem likely to keep us from reaching our comfortable potential. Rain does not amount to much, and it may come in a few showery waves during the day. Highs are in the mid- to upper 50s. A better chance of rain may arrive with the front overnight into early Sunday, but it’ll be short lived as well.

Sunday: A cold front should be pushing to our east Sunday morning. That means clearing skies and increasingly gusty winds out of the northwest. We end up mostly sunny as highs reach near 50 to the mid-50s.

See Camden Walker’s forecast through the beginning of next week. And if you haven’t already, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock.

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Source: Local Weather

In lieu of radar, forecasters in Puerto Rico are using technology to guess where rain is

Left: What a functioning Weather Service radar looks like. Right: What the radar in Puerto Rico looked liked after Hurricane Maria. (National Weather Service, adapted by CWG)

After Hurricane Maria wiped out Puerto Rico’s weather radar, the military installed a couple of stopgaps — smaller radars that couldn’t see as far, but would at least give meteorologists an idea of what was falling from the sky.

Now, to fill in the holes that still remain in the island’s critical weather information, meteorologists are using machine learning to interpolate the data.

Ever put together a jigsaw puzzle? There’s nothing more satisfying than laying down that final piece, standing back and admiring the picture. Even if we’re missing a piece or two of the puzzle, we can still figure out what’s being depicted, because our brains are great at interpolating. It’s like filling in the blanks.

That’s exactly what’s been going on Puerto Rico.

“We are using [the technology] to estimate the amount of rainfall coming from the clouds we are seeing on the satellite images,” said Ernesto Rodriguez, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service forecast office in San Juan. “It’s a proxy for what the radar would have shown us.”

Nationwide, a network of WSR-88D weather radars sweep the sky around the clock to make sure that everything is “on our radar.” Ordinarily, if one of these is broken, we can just look at the scans from a nearby station, paying the small price of it being slightly less detailed.

Unfortunately, Puerto Rico wasn’t so lucky. After transmitting a final frame of data showing approaching 140-mph wind gusts as Hurricane Maria’s eye wall neared back in September, the radar quite literally disintegrated.

For nearly two months, the island was without traditional weather radar to resolve the sudden torrential rainstorms that can be crippling to rescue and rebuilding efforts.

This month, the U.S. Department of Defense built two temporary X-band radars on opposite ends of the island, providing vital weather radar coverage to areas that had had none since Maria swept away the Weather Service’s radar.

To fill in the gaps between the temporary radars, the NWS office in San Juan has turned to an integrative technological approach known as Offshore Precipitation Capability (OPC).

This method takes aim at filling the void left by a lack of radar coverage by attacking at all angles — from other radars, from satellites in the sky, and even through lightning mapping. After ingesting the data set, this model developed by the Federal Aviation Administration and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory was able to correlate precipitation intensity with other factors — like cloud-top cooling or lightning frequency.

In doing so, they can construct a pretty accurate picture of what’s going on even in areas that are meteorologically “dark” in terms of traditional sensing methods. This is particularly useful for pilots flying over the ocean, where radar, ground-based weather stations and river gauges simply don’t exist.

The underlying concept is quite simple. Imagine you have a map of lightning strikes that covers the entire United States. Odds are you can kind of guess where it’s raining, and where it’s not. Then add a couple more layers of “guessing,” and after years’ worth of fine-tuning, scientists are now able to bridge the gap left by weather radars. Knowing what’s happening on the ground is always the most important, and thanks to OPC, we’re one step closer to being able to do that.

The FAA plans to roll this out experimentally for areas west of the Rockies later this year. It’ll be a long time before it makes its way to most Weather Service offices in the rest of the country, but for the time being in Puerto Rico, it’s the best thing they’ve got.

Source: Local Weather

Here’s what the sun looks like through each year of its 11-year cycle


An example of what the sun looks like each year through its 11-year cycle. (NASA)

If you watch the sun over many years, it will change. It’s interesting to see our star wax and wane in brightness — a rather dramatic change in its appearance.

Solar scientists call it “molt,” just like a bird sheds old feathers or a snake rejects its well-worn top layer of skin. This well-known molt is what causes the 11-year cycle. It is observable in a number of ways, but probably the most dramatic is in its production of X-rays.

The compilation of images from NASA, above, is from an 11-year period. It shows the cycle very clearly.

The brilliant, hot X-ray regions, seen prominently at the bottom, overlie sunspot regions below in the photosphere. There are also prominent large-scale loops that suggest the magnetic field connecting one region to another.

As the X-rays fade, shown at the top, the bright regions become nearly invisible. That solar minimum-era picture captures the epoch in which we find ourselves now.

Look at the dark regions in the pictures, the voids in the corona that dominate solar minimum. These structures, coronal holes, are long-lived at the bottom of the solar cycle and set off periodic magnetic disturbances on Earth. High-speed solar wind, unfettered by magnetic field constraints, flows about twice the normal 1,000,000 mph speed of the ambient solar wind.

Solar eruptions are scarce these days, as the needed fuel from magnetic fields on the sun is low. The flip side of this lull is the heightened galactic cosmic rays — irradiated particles that come in from outside our solar system. When the sun is active, it protects our solar system from these rays. When it’s quiet, the protective bubble disappears.

So what’s next? In the next few years the solar magnetic fields will strengthen, brilliant coronal X-rays will again emerge, and we’ll do this “solar cycle thing” all over again.

Source: Local Weather

Top-ranked Baltimore officer cleared in police van death

BALTIMORE (AP) — A police disciplinary board has cleared the highest-ranking Baltimore officer involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose death in custody sparked the city’s worst riots in decades.

The three-member panel found Lt. Brian Rice not guilty on all administrative charges on Friday. Rice was shift commander the day in April 2015 when Gray was left shackled and handcuffed, but without a seatbelt, inside the metal compartment of a police van where he suffered a fatal spinal injury on the way to the station.

Rice, who was acquitted in a criminal trial last year, was visibly relieved, and embraced his lawyers after the panel’s ruling. He will get to keep his job.

Source: Headline news

Pic of the week: Sea smoke and a single boat

Sea smoke over the Atlantic Ocean near Belmar, N.J. (Bill McKim)

Cold weather is beautiful — from unique snow crystals to landscapes frozen in time in a coating of frost to the ethereal sea smoke seen in the photograph above.

Bill McKim captured this photo during the record early-season Arctic cold blast that affected millions from the northern Plains to the Northeast last week. Eventually, it reached the Atlantic Ocean.

During this cold blast, places like International Falls, N.Y., and Newark experienced their coldest temperatures so early in the season. Central Park had its first back-to-back record low since 1994, and Washington broke its first record low in the month of the November since 1976.

So, sea-smoke. It needs three key ingredients: bitter cold air, warm water and light winds. The Arctic air mass, which originated more than 3,000 miles away near the Arctic Circle, pushed air temperatures into the low-mid 20s last weekend in New Jersey.

At the same time, the Atlantic Ocean water was very warm with water temperatures just off shore near Belmar, N.J., still roughly 60 degrees. When the cold Arctic air streamed over the warm ocean, this provided the perfect recipe for epic sea smoke.

Sea smoke forms through the same exact process as other types of fog and steam. When the very cold air moves over the warmer waters, the warmer air near the surface of the gets cooled quickly to the dew point at which point it can no longer hold any more water, so the excess moisture condenses out in the form of fog.

Finally, light winds kept the sea smoke from mixing out and getting blown away and dispersed.

Source: Local Weather

'Lighten Up' Says Ohio Supreme Court Justice Who Bragged of Sex with 50 Women

Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'NeillOhio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill.

Sitting Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill boasted Friday on Facebook that he had “been sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females.” In the same post, he lashed out at the “dogs of war” criticizing Sen. Al Franken and said he was “sooooo disappointed by this national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions decades ago.”

The original version of O’Neill’s post, which he later edited, is below:

William O'Neill

In an interview later on Friday with Cleveland.com, O’Neill—who is running as a Democratic candidate for the Ohio governorship—cited media scrutiny of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, saying Moore was being denied due process over allegations of past sexual misconduct.

The reaction to the Facebook post was swift, bipartisan and decidedly negative.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor was among the chorus:

“I condemn in no uncertain terms Justice O’Neill’s Facebook post,” O’Connor said in a statement. “No words can convey my shock. This gross disrespect for women shakes the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.”

“We have to be better than this,” tweeted Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, a Republican candidate for governor.

“At a moment when our country is having a tough but necessary conversation about sexual harassment and assault, the last thing women needed were Justice O’Neill’s degrading and downright strange comments,” Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper said in a tweet.

O’Neill joined the state Supreme Court bench in 2013. Before that he worked as a registered nurse, and he was a judge on Ohio’s Eleventh District Court of Appeals from 1997 until 2007.

In another Facebook message late Friday afternoon, O’Neill defended his original post and took aim at “sanctimonious judges who are demanding my resignation”:

William O'Neill

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Source: Law Journal

Trump's Supreme Court Wish List Grows By Five Judges

Justice Neil Gorsuch, left, and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / ALM

The White House announced five new additions Friday to its list of potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, though no justice has announced retirement.

The new names came in a late Friday press release that coincided with the annual conference of the Federalist Society, which has played a pivotal role in fashioning Trump’s list of potential nominees.

Following the announcement, White House Counsel Don McGahn praised the additions during a speech at the conference. “Good judges follow the law even when the decisions are unpopular. Judicial courage is as important as judicial independence,” he said to applause.

The most notable addition to the earlier list of 21 names was Brett Kavanaugh, a prominent  judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Like new justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh is also a former law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy.

When Gorsuch was nominated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, it was viewed as a gesture toward Kennedy, reassuring him that if he retired, President Donald Trump would replace him with simpatico, respected appeals judges. Kavanaugh’s entry on the list may serve the same purpose.

Two of the potential new nominees—Amy Coney Barrett and Kevin Newsom—are newly minted judges who, if nominated soon to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, would have only brief experience as appellate judges on their resume. That is not unusual; both of President George H.W. Bush’s nominees, David Souter and Clarence Thomas, had only briefly sat on the First and D.C. Circuit, respectively, before being promoted to the high court.

“The inclusion of two more state justices—and only one from Washington (or anywhere in the Acela corridor)—also shows the national scope of the search for legal talent,” Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, said in a statement. The last justice to come directly from a state court was Sandra Day O’Connor, formerly an Arizona appeals judge, in 1981.

A statement from the White House press office said Trump “will choose a nominee for a future Supreme Court vacancy, should one arise” from the newly updated list. Though rumors swirled earlier this year that Kennedy may retire, no justice has announced an upcoming retirement. Trump, as well as other conservatives, have also urged the 84-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire. She has said repeatedly she will remain on the court until she feels she is not able to do her job at “full steam.”

The statement said Trump is “committed to identifying and selecting outstanding jurists in the mold” of Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed to the bench earlier this year.

Here’s a snapshot of the five new judges added to the list:


Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit a little over two weeks ago. Prior to her confirmation, she was a law professor at Notre Dame Law School, her alma mater. She also clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, as well as Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Barrett’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee included some controversy as senators, including Dianne Feinstein of California, questioned if she would be able to separate her personal religious beliefs from her duties as a judge. Conservatives accused Democrats on the committee of bias against Catholics after the hearing.


Brett Kavanaugh serves on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He was was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2003, but was not confirmed until 2006. Kavanaugh earlier worked in the Bush White House, first in the White House counsel’s office from 2001 to 2003 and then as an assistant to the president until his appointment to the bench.  He worked in the Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr from 1994 to 1997, as well as for a period in 1998.

Kavanaugh also spent time in private practice at Kirkland & Ellis, and spent a year in the Office of the Solicitor General from 1992 to 1993. A graduate of Yale Law School, he clerked for Kennedy on the high court as well as Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Walter Stapleton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Kavanaugh’s name was floated as a Supreme Court contender for would-be president Mitt Romney. Some conservatives criticized the absence of Kavanaugh’s name from two earlier lists Trump published about his Supreme Court contenders.


Britt Grant was appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia on Jan.1. She earlier served as the state’s solicitor general. She clerked for Kavanaugh, and like him, worked as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis from 2008 to 2012.

She also served in various positions in the Bush White House from 2001 to 2004, including on the Domestic Policy Council and in the Office of Cabinet Affairs. Grant is a graduate of Stanford Law School.


Kevin Newsom was confirmed August 1 for his spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He is a former Alabama solicitor general, and worked as a partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings prior to his nomination.

He clerked for Justice David Souter and Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Newsom after his Supreme Court clerkship joined Covington & Burling’s appellate litigation team in Washington. He was appointed in 2003 as Alabama solicitor general.


Patrick Wyrick was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma on February 9. He served as solicitor general of the state for six years prior to his appointment. He worked in private practice at the firm of Gabe Gotwals from 2008 to 2011, and clerked for judge James Payne on the U.S District Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of Oklahoma. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Law School. Wyrick appeared before the Supreme Court after deathrow inmates sued Oklahoma after a botched execution, claiming the use of the drug midazolam constituted a cruel and unusual punishment. The justices sided with Oklahoma 5-4.

Trump’s full list of 25 contenders for a future Supreme Court vacancy is posted below:

Trump Scotus List (PDF)
Trump Scotus List (Text)

Read more:

‘You’re a Bunch of Radicals,’ Gorsuch Jokes at Federalist Society Dinner

Clarence Thomas Speaks: Gorsuch Is a ‘Good Man’

Gorsuch Dishes on Civility, Firing Clients, Discovery Karma, and Hot Tubs With Law Clerks

Willett’s Tweets Become Focus Of Senate Hearing

Meet the Kirkland Partner in Line to Shepherd Trump’s Judicial Nominees

Trump Avoids Big Law Again in New List of Possible SCOTUS Picks

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Source: Law Journal

D.C.-area forecast: Cool breezes today, warmer air tomorrow, then chilly and windy again by Sunday


17th St NW near the Mall on Nov. 11. (angela n. via Flickr).

TODAY’S DAILY DIGIT
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.

7/10: Enjoy breezy sunshine if you can, since the weekend may turn cloudy, then extra blustery!

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Sunny. Breezy, especially a.m. Highs: Near 50 to lower 50s.
Tonight: Lighter breeze. Cloudier later. Lows: Mid-30s to low 40s.
Saturday: Partly cloudy. Increasing wind. Highs: Mid-50s to low 60s.
Sunday: Very windy but sunny. Highs: Upper 40s to low 50s.

View the current weather conditions at The Washington Post headquarters.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Have layers available over the next few days, since the weather will often change notably from one to the next. We’ve got sun and crisp breezes today, and increasingly cloudy skies tomorrow but also mild winds. Then by Sunday it looks bright and blustery! There could be some rain in the middle. Ahh, fall.

Listen to the latest forecast:

Get our daily forecasts on your Amazon Alexa device. Click here to find out how.

Today (Friday): Sunshine should dominate, but moderate northwesterly breezes around 10 mph add some chill, particularly in the morning hours. High temperatures dip back below average, getting near 50 to lower 50s. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: Clouds may increase in the early morning, but some stars should shine before then. Breezes should be steady, around 5 mph out of the south and southwest. Low temperatures downtown may hover in the low 40s, with some mid-30s possible outside of the Beltway. Confidence: Medium-High

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates. For related traffic news, check out Gridlock. Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend . . .

Tomorrow (Saturday): Very cloudy conditions are probable, with a slight chance of a quick late-afternoon shower. High temperatures are boosted into the mid-50s to perhaps low 60s, thanks to southerly winds increasing to around 15 mph. Some gusts near 25 mph can’t be ruled out. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow night: Wind may continue to blow between 15 and 25 mph, but shifting direction overnight. Ahead of the cold front, southerly flow dominates. Behind it, into the early morning hours, the blustery conditions turn around to blow from the west-northwesterly direction. Showers are likely during the middle of the night, with perhaps a couple moderately rainy moments around midnight — but total rain amounts may stay below a quarter of an inch. Low temperatures don’t get much of a chance to fall before sunrise, bottoming out in the mid-to-upper 40s. Confidence: Medium

A LOOK AHEAD

Sunday: Wind around 20 to 35 mph at times may be the main story. Blustery west-northwesterly conditions really reinforce wintry conditions behind this cold front. Temperatures in the morning hours may prove the high temperatures of the day, in the upper 40s to low 50s, before falling a few degrees in the afternoon. Wind chills could be around 10 degrees lower than air temperature reads on any thermometer. At least any sunrise sprinkles move out quickly, with sun dominating the day. Confidence: Medium

Sunday night: A cold and still-breezy night appears likely. Even the warmer downtown area is eying the freezing mark as a low temperature near dawn. Most of the region should see upper 20s to around 30 degrees. Confidence: Medium

It appears now that slightly calmer, sunnier conditions are possible Monday and Tuesday. However, this doesn’t rule out a moderate breeze or a few clouds at times. Temperatures should be able to get near 50 Monday and into the 50s Tuesday. Slight wind chills could shave off a few degrees of comfort from those temperatures. Stay tuned for tweaks to the forecast as we get closer. Confidence: Medium

Source: Local Weather

Fed Governor: On Consumer Protection, Fintech Advisors Can Look To Yahoo, Google

Lael Brainard. Shutterstock.com.

Financial technology companies have a lot to offer consumers, but let the buyer beware.

That was a key takeaway from Federal Reserve System governor Lael Brainard, who addressed a conference at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Thursday in a speech titled, “Where Do Consumers Fit in the Fintech Stack?”

Her speech focused on concerns of consumers, and highlighted how fintechs should view advertising and disclosures, noting that they can take a cue or two from some of the biggest players in the search engine and product comparison areas.

Brainard addressed the various business models of financial technology companies, including fintech advisers.

Fintech advisers, a category that can include fintechs such as Acorns, a company that allows users to invest their “spare change,” and robo-advising company Betterment, streamline personal finance and investing decisions and activities via apps. Many fintech advisers use artificial intelligence, algorithms and machine learning to assist consumers in decision-making.  

Brainard said some fintech advisers “may describe their service as providing tailored advice or making recommendations as they would to friends and family.”

But Brainard pointed out that in today’s environment, consumers are often unaware whether an adviser’s recommendation—of where to invest, as an example—”is based on the product’s alignment with his or her needs or different considerations.”

For example, some fintech advisers can make anywhere from $100 to $700 in lead generation fees for each customer who signs up for a credit card the adviser recommends, Brainard said.

Or in other cases, fintech advisers could change the order of loan offers or credit cards based on how likely the customer is of being approved.

“There appears to be a wide variety of practices regarding the prominence and placement of advertising and other disclosures relative to the advice and recommendations such firms provide,” Brainard said. “Overall, fintech assistants have increasingly improved the disclosures that explain to consumers how they get paid, but this is still a work in progress.”

Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, as well as product comparison sites such as Travelocity and Yelp, “may provide useful guidance” for fintech advisers, Brainard said. These popular sites have resulted in internet users adopting “norms and standards for how we can expect search and recommendation engines to operate.”

In Brainard’s view, consumers have come to expect search results to be sorted based on what’s organically most responsive to the search, unless the result is clearly labeled otherwise. She believes users know how to look for visual cues such as “Sponsored” or “Ad” or different formatting that separates ads from regular search results. “Even when an endorsement is made in a brief Twitter update, we now expect disclosures to be clear and conspicuous,” she said.

She thinks fintech advisers will have to adopt similar disclosure methodologies. She gave the example of personal financial management tools that now interact with consumers via text message.

“If consumers move to a world in which most of their interactions with their advisers occur via text-messaging chatbots—or voice communication—I am hopeful that industry, regulators, consumers, and other stakeholders will work together to adapt the norms to distinguish between advice and sponsored recommendations,” she said. 

This is not the first time Brainard has spoken out publicly about  the rapidly growing fintech sector. Earlier this year, she gave a speech about fintech’s relationships with banks, and indicated that the Fed should potentially be involved in rulemaking for companies in this space.

In that speech, she noted the special purpose bank charter that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency proposed earlier this year, which would give fintechs the opportunity to operate as banks.  Brainard said this move raises “interpretive and policy issues for the Federal Reserve regarding whether charter recipients would become Federal Reserve members or have access to Federal Reserve accounts and services, such as direct access to payment systems.”

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Source: Law Journal