A document of information obtained by Edward Snowden has been revealed by SPIEGEL, in which the media company says the NSA is shown to have engaged in widespread monitoring of credit card transactions, payments, and banking of an international nature. Furthermore, it is shown that the intelligence agency has a dedicated branch for this called “Follow the Money,” and a databank to contain the gathered information.
The databank is reportedly called Tracfin, and according to the leaked documents it contained 180 million financial records gleaned from the NSA’s Follow The Money branch. Likewise, it is said about 84-percent of the information contained in the databank is from credit card transactions, with the rest being composed of other banking and payments.
The information also shows the NSA as having targeted VISA and other similar large credit card companies, with VISA’s transaction network in particular having been “successfully searched through” for data-tapping options. According to the same documents, the NSA sought to get access to records from transactions made by customers located in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
VISA wasn’t the only one targeted, however, with the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication network, more commonly called SWIFT, was also infiltrated. SWIFT is utilized by thousands of banks for the transmission of secured transaction data, and was apparently targeted by the US intelligence agency “on several levels.”
Said Visa in response to the information: “We are not aware of any unauthorized access to our network. Visa takes data security seriously and, in response to any attempted intrusion, we would pursue all available remedies to the fullest extent of the law. Further, its Visa’s policy to only provide transaction information in response to a subpoena or other valid legal process.”