Reuters reports that the Obama administration is currently drawing up plans that would give spy agencies within the United States access to a database that contains a huge amount of personal data on people who bank within the country. The massive database contains financial data from American citizens and others who bank within the US. The goal of the plan according to Reuters is to help intelligence agencies spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates.
Supporters of the plan hope that it will bring together information from financial databanks, criminal records, and military intelligence in an effort to find criminals before they can perform nefarious deeds. Legal experts say that the plan isn’t illegal, but it is likely to draw harsh criticism from privacy advocates. Financial institutions have been required by law to notify the federal government of suspicious banking activity.
It’s also worth noting that the FBI has full access to this database already. The way the system is currently structured for the CIA and the NSA, gaining access to the database has to be made on a case-by-case request basis to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The goal is to give these spy agencies better access to information that could help them catch terrorist networks and criminals before they can perform any sort of criminal activity within the United States.
Reuters reports that the document it has seen is a planning document dated March 4. That document shows that the proposal is in the early stages of development and at this point it’s unclear when access to the database for the spy organizations might begin. Some who oppose the plan believe that citizens who have done nothing wrong could find themselves in a potential terrorist database leading to the possibility of false accusations.