Spy agencies to be granted access to US citizen finances

Spy agencies to be granted access to US citizen finances

Summary: The financial data of American citizens is set to be open season for spy agencies as the fight against terrorism and cybercrime continues.

Credit: CBS News

Should intelligence agencies in the United States have unrestricted access to the banking details of U.S. citizens? The federal government believes so.

According to Reuters, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA) may one day soon have the ability to access a central database which records and contains financial transactions made by American citizens — something that only law enforcement agencies have had unbridled access to.

The publication says that the Obama Administration is currently drafting a set of proposals as part of a plan to give intelligence agencies access to this data in the name of tracking "suspicious" transactions, which are reported to take place approximately 15 million times per year, according to banking information.

The database is part of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Created in 1990, the bureau uses data and reports submitted by financial bodies to try and combat money laundering and fraud — as well as find those who finance "terrorist" activity. Any transaction above $10,000 in value is documented, and over 25,000 financial institutions currently file reports to the network.

However, privacy advocates have pointed out that as regulations for filing is so strict, organizations often "overfile" just to be sure they have met governmental requirements — which means there is a possibility that the financial lives of ordinary citizens could wind up in the hands of intelligence agencies.

Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the Rule of Law Program at the Constitution Project, told Reuters that concerns have been raised "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."

Currently, both the CIA and NSA must make individual case requests to access this database. However, under the new proposals, FinCEN would become connected with the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System — a network which holds classified information shared between law enforcement agencies — and so access to financial data would no longer hold any restrictions.

The plans are still in early stages, and it is not yet known when — and if — these measures will eventually come into play.

Topics: Security, Government US

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  • Time to take your money out

    How can you place your trust in something that uses "Trust" as its motto, when it hands out your information without a warrant? I suggest buying your own lock box and operating on a cash-only basis.
    • I'm there already

      I haven't had a personal account with any bank for more than 10 years. I assume "they" have been digging through people's affairs for a long time, it's just now that they are telling us they are doing it.

      The slippery slope has brought us to a point where there is nothing "they" can do that will generate any significant outrage from 'we the people.'
    • until...

      ... they outlaw cash. Those pieces of paper and glorified tokens aren't worth anything if you can't get someone to accept them in trade for anything.
  • Help!

    Anonymous! Time to get to work again....
    Kootenay Coyote
    • Censorship is alive at ZDNet

      Wrote a reply outlining the evidence showing some of the illegal activities of our puppet government. It contained no profanities, but the censorship banner popped up. The power elite are already in complete control. Freedom disappeared even before the Patriot Act.
      • You got it BillDem

        Now they are trying to legalize it.
  • Mattress stuffin'

    Federal networks have already proven they can't keep citizens' confidential data safe.
    • Mattress eh been busy?

      If the government wanted to know how much is in the sack they would not have to look unless the books don't tally.
  • "They" certainly gutted the Fourth Amendment, didn't "they"?

    The road to hell, and tyranny, is paved with "good intentions".
    • It is not with "good" intensions but deadly intention.

      Yes lets hear it for Them! And did you consider that spy agency's are not about enforcement? Drones are not enforcement. Its about war. That is a necessary thing. I say go get 'em.
  • Charlie

    Very little intelligent commentary is making it past the profanity filter any more. They are suceeding, because we don't have time to wite then have it discarded.

    P.S. as other have noted there has not been a hint of profanity in attempted posts.
    • Stupidly Programmed Software

      I too recently commented only to have it flagged as profanity.
      I pored over my post to imagine just what tripped the filter. I think either 'Erudite' or '...below the belt' did it.
      Pathetic on ZDNet's part.
    • For me...

      ...in another article the word that must have triggered it was l u n a c y...
      • This is content filtering

        I don't think that it has to do with keywords. here were no words that I wrote that could have been caught in a filter.

        There are concepts which they do not want to gain widespread attention.
  • i got no money, so why would i care !!

    my suggestion is to start with Trumps bank accounts.
  • George Orwell saw it coming!

    For all that has been written about dictatorships and Communist countries having their citizens under constant surveillance. But with the help of technology and 911, the good ole USA is sliding right down that slippery slope to the point where Big Brother will be watching every move its citizens make. First they say its to protect us from terrorists. Then next time they'll say it's for tracking criminals. Soon it will be helping 'too big to fail banks' locate people behind on their accounts. Each time it'll get a little easier to justify because the American people will initially be upset but will then settle down and continue to vote in the politicians that help make this all possible with their votes. Before long, we're no better than those third world dictatorships our country loves to hate.
  • Wow, how times have changed

    Can you imagine the uproar had an administration propose such an action 5 years ago?

    Obama 2012: Bush's 4th term.
    • When no one is conservative....

      You can bunch em all with George Bush, but then again they were elected as Democrats, endorsed at the Democratic convention, still spout liberal whiny green policies which never work and only raise the utility bills, endorsed and passed a bill (Obamacare) which by means of the HHS actually funnels all liberal and conservative taxpayer money into abortion wether you believe in it or not. You Mr. McGrew have got to realize it's just not only Bush's 4th term, but our countries loss of a CONSERVATIVE agenda which has caused all the problems. Republicans used to be conservative, the fact you still blame Bush 5 years later and under King Obama's reign only further prove their loss of ideologies and leaning to the without morals LEFT.
      • Uh....

        ****Republicans used to be conservative, the fact you still blame Bush 5 years later and under King Obama's reign only further prove their loss of ideologies and leaning to the without morals LEFT.****

        Uh, how did you manage to interpret his post to mean that he was blaming former President Bush for anything?
        Hallowed are the Ori
        • EDIT - Nevermind

          I reread his post, and now I'm not even sure what the hell he meant.

          BTW: ZDNet's forum sucks. Bring back the damned "Edit Post" button.
          Hallowed are the Ori