Corporate Transparency Act and Privacy Concerns: Safeguards and Considerations

by | Jun 24, 2024 | Insights

Corporate Transparency Act

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), enacted to enhance transparency in corporate ownership, introduces critical measures aimed at combating financial crimes. While its objectives are commendable, the Act also raises significant privacy concerns for business owners and shareholders alike. This blog post examines the privacy implications of the CTA, analyses the safeguards in place, and discusses concerns surrounding the public disclosure of beneficial ownership information.

Privacy Implications of the CTA

Under the CTA, certain U.S. entities, including corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs), are required to disclose their beneficial owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Beneficial owners are individuals who directly or indirectly own or control 25% or more of the entity’s ownership interests, or exercise substantial control over the entity.

For business owners and shareholders, the CTA poses several privacy implications:

  1. Disclosure of Personal Information: Business owners and shareholders may feel uncomfortable with the mandatory disclosure of their personal information, including their identities and ownership stakes. This transparency requirement potentially exposes them to increased scrutiny from regulatory authorities, financial institutions, and the public.
  2. Risk of Identity Theft and Fraud: Publicly disclosing beneficial ownership information could increase the risk of identity theft and fraud. Malicious actors could exploit publicly available information to impersonate beneficial owners or perpetrate financial crimes, posing a direct threat to the privacy and security of affected individuals.
  3. Impact on Personal and Family Security: Business owners, especially those in sensitive industries or high-profile positions, may face heightened risks to personal and family security. Public disclosure of beneficial ownership could make it easier for adversaries to track and target individuals associated with businesses, jeopardising their safety and well-being.

Safeguards Regarding Public Disclosure

To address these privacy concerns, the CTA includes several safeguards and limitations regarding the public disclosure of beneficial ownership information:

  1. Restricted Access: Currently, access to beneficial ownership information submitted to FinCEN is restricted to law enforcement agencies, financial institutions conducting customer due diligence, and certain other authorised entities. This restricted access aims to balance transparency with privacy protection, limiting public exposure of sensitive personal information.
  2. Confidentiality Provisions: The CTA includes confidentiality provisions designed to safeguard the personal information of beneficial owners. Entities submitting information to FinCEN must comply with data protection protocols and ensure the secure handling of sensitive information to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure.
  3. Redaction of Sensitive Information: In cases where public access to beneficial ownership information is permitted, certain sensitive details, such as Social Security numbers and residential addresses, may be redacted to mitigate privacy risks. This approach seeks to strike a balance between transparency and privacy, minimising the exposure of potentially harmful personal information.

Concerns Regarding Public Disclosure

Despite these safeguards, concerns persist regarding the implications of public disclosure of beneficial ownership information:

  1. Stigmatisation and Reputational Risks: Public disclosure could subject beneficial owners to stigmatisation or reputational damage, particularly if their involvement in businesses raises unwarranted suspicions or negative perceptions. This risk is amplified in cases where beneficial owners have diverse business interests or affiliations.
  2. Limited Control Over Information Use: Once disclosed to regulatory authorities, beneficial ownership information may be subject to further dissemination or use beyond intended purposes. Lack of control over information use raises concerns about data privacy and potential misuse by third parties, undermining the confidentiality expectations of affected individuals.
  3. Administrative Burdens and Compliance Costs: Compliance with beneficial ownership disclosure requirements imposes administrative burdens and associated costs on businesses. Small businesses and startups, in particular, may struggle to allocate resources to navigate regulatory complexities and ensure compliance with evolving transparency standards.


The Corporate Transparency Act represents a pivotal initiative in enhancing corporate accountability and combating financial crimes through increased transparency. However, its implementation raises legitimate privacy concerns for business owners and shareholders regarding the disclosure and protection of beneficial ownership information. While the Act includes safeguards to mitigate privacy risks, such as restricted access and confidentiality provisions, ongoing vigilance is necessary to address concerns about identity theft, fraud, and personal security.

As regulatory frameworks evolve, stakeholders must advocate for robust data protection measures and transparency protocols that uphold privacy rights while advancing the objectives of financial integrity and accountability. Balancing these competing interests requires a nuanced approach that promotes transparency without compromising the fundamental right to privacy. By addressing privacy concerns effectively, policymakers can foster a regulatory environment that inspires trust, safeguards personal information, and promotes responsible corporate governance in the digital age.