A year ago, I wrote a post “2013: The End of Privacy in America,” warning you about that huge Data Center in Utah where, by this September, the federal government will store our every email, cell phone call, Google search, parking receipt, credit card purchases, and more. The data will all be intercepted, analyzed, and stored in a heavily fortified $2 billion Data Center that the National Security Agency (NSA) is constructing in Utah.
Now comes news that the Obama regime will let spy agencies snoop on our banking and other financial data.
The Treasury document outlines a proposal to link its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database with a computer network used by U.S. defense and law enforcement agencies to share classified information called
S.P.E.C.T.R.E the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System.
All in the name of combating terrorists and criminal syndicates.
It is claimed the new plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before, helping them look for patterns that could reveal attack plots or criminal schemes. National security experts also maintain that a robust system for sharing criminal, financial and intelligence data among agencies will improve their ability to identify those who plan attacks on the United States.
“It’s a war on money, war on corruption, on politically exposed persons, anti-money laundering, organized crime,” said Amit Kumar, who advised the United Nations on Taliban sanctions and is a fellow at the Democratic think tank Center for National Policy.
Already, as some of you may have discovered when you try to deposit checks of “large” denominations in your bank account, financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of “suspicious customer activity,” such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury’s FinCEN. Banks, for instance, are required to report all personal cash transactions exceeding $10,000, as well as suspected incidents of money laundering, loan fraud, computer hacking or counterfeiting. More than 15 million “suspicious activity reports” are filed every year, according to Treasury.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) already has full access to the database. However, intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, currently have to make case-by-case requests for information to FinCEN. The new plan will obviate those requests. The Treasury argues that “For these reports to be of value in detecting money laundering, they must be accessible to law enforcement, counter-terrorism agencies, financial regulators, and the intelligence community.”
A Treasury spokesperson said U.S. law permits FinCEN to share information with intelligence agencies to help detect and thwart threats to national security, provided they adhere to safeguards outlined in the Bank Secrecy Act.
Some privacy watchdogs expressed concern about the plan when Reuters outlined it to them. Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the non-profit watchdog group Rule of Law Program at the Constitution Project, says a move like the FinCEN proposal “raises concerns as to whether people could find their information in a file as a potential terrorist suspect without having the appropriate predicate for that and find themselves potentially falsely accused.”
Despite these concerns, legal experts say this sharing of data is permissible under U.S. law. Specifically, banks’ suspicious activity reporting requirements are dictated by a combination of the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA PATRIOT Act, which offer some privacy safeguards.
The planning document, dated March 4, shows that the proposal is still in its early stages of development, and it is not known when implementation might begin.