A new report finds that U.S intelligence agencies are collecting more than data on telephone records and Internet behavior. According to the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the CIA “is building a vast database of international money transfers that includes millions of Americans’ financial and personal data, officials familiar with the program say.”
The financial data on money transfers, from businesses such as Western Union, does not include transactions that are solely domestic. A majority of the records are foreign, but includes those between the U.S. and other nations. “It does include data beyond basic financial records, such as U.S. Social Security numbers, which can be used to tie the financial activity to a specific person,” according to the Journal.
Just like the National Security Agency’s spy program, the bulk data collection is authorized under section 215 of the Patriot Act, is stored in a dedicated database and requires a court order to search the records.
Western Union will spend a whopping 4 percent of its revenue in 2014 to comply with Patriot Act rules.
The program was apparently inspired by the September 11 attacks, where “al Qaeda hijackers were able to move about $300,000 to U.S.-based bank accounts without arousing suspicion.”
This is the latest bulk data collection program to be revealed, but it likely won’t be the last.
[Image credit Flickr user geographyalltheway.com]