Arizona-Led Effort Spies on Americans’ Financial Transactions
If you’ve sent or received money to or from somebody in Mexico, law-enforcement agencies have probably tracked your transactions.
In fact, if you’ve sent money across American borders at all, Big Brother is likely watching. In what began as an Arizona-led effort before going nationwide, a not-so-independent nonprofit organization has been indiscriminately compiling sensitive financial information and making it available to law-enforcement agencies across the country.
Last year, Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Ore.) revealed that “Homeland Security Investigations used a form of subpoena power to order two companies to turn over every money transfer over $500, to and from California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. This data was shared with hundreds of federal, state and local government agencies, who can search it without any court oversight, through a non-profit created by the Arizona Attorney General.”
His office subsequently discovered the surveillance was worse than originally believed.
“The program included far more states and foreign nations than the government disclosed in briefings,” Wyden’s office announced this week. The government demanded data from many other companies, including Euronet (RIA Envia), MoneyGram and Viamericas, and “included records for transfers of $500 or more between any U.S. state and 22 foreign nations and one U.S. territory.” Agencies demanding data included not just the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Arizona, but also the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) under the Department of Justice.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also dug for information and has published more than 200 documents revealing details of the program which fed a vast database of sensitive data.
“The database, run by an organization called the Transaction Record Analysis Center (TRAC), contained 145 million records of people’s financial transactions as of 2021, and we have reason to believe it’s still growing,” reports the ACLU.
The surveillance dates to 2006, when Arizona’s attorney general sought details from Western Union about money transfers to and from the Mexican state of Sonora. That led to a legal battle settled in 2010 when “Western Union agreed to turn over records of all money transfers exceeding $500 to or from the Southwest border states and to or from Mexico for the next four years,” notes the ACLU.
TRAC was established in 2
Article from Reason.com