Republicans Probe GoFundMe and Eventbrite Over Government Transaction Surveillance

Feds were already caught surveilling other forms of financial transactions. The House Weaponization committee wants to know if more companies were involved.

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The US House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government appears to be trying to dig deeper into the meaning of the subject matter it has been convened to explore.

Specifically – how some private financial entities, egged on by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) – a federal, US Department of Treasury agency – allegedly went on to essentially surveil clearly political terms like “Trump” and “MAGA” on platforms such as Eventbrite and GoFundMe.

The latter company’s purpose is self-evident – it’s a crowdsourcer – whereas Eventbrite is in a similar business, with a stress on event management and ticketing.

And that’s apparently how deep – and wide – government influence on digital platforms/companies went in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 events in Washington DC.

Now the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan wants to know what exactly was happening in these “spaces” at that time.

Read the full letter to Eventbrite here.

Read the full letter to GoFundMe here.

More than that – Jordan’s letters to the two companies suggest that there is already information available to this congressional committee that suggests FinCEN “encouraged private financial institutions to review customer transactions using politically sensitive terms such as ‘Trump’ and ‘MAGA’ that occurred on Jan. 6.”

Other keywords apparently under surveillance (at the time?) were, “America First” – but also at this point, likely only at the time, “Pelosi,” “Pence,” etc.

And even if Jordan kept the queries official and “neutral” by using terms like, “encouraged” and, “review” – well, what do we think such suspicions really mean?

Soon enough in the missives, Jordan made sure there was no real doubt about that.

“Despite these transactions having no apparent nexus to criminal activity – and, in fact, relate to Americans exercising their First Amendment rights – FinCEN seems to have adopted a characterization of these Americans as potential threat actors,” says the letter.

There’s now a deadline of March 18 for the two companies to respond by giving the Congress documented information about how this particular, essentially crowdsourcing/government-based type of collusion may or may not have happened.

Jordan, meanwhile, made no attempt to disguise what the worry here is – namely, that FinCEN’s interventions with private entities resulted in curtailing Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed speech protections.

According to the letters, FinCEN made note of how “Card Purchase(s)’ to events are findable using ‘the transaction reference ‘EB [the EVENT] with the phone number’ and detailed how individuals who purchased tickets to events in support of President Trump could be identified using the transaction reference, ‘EB MARCH FOR TR 801413720’.”

To make sure: “FinCEN also provided a second method for identifying individuals using transaction references, writing: ‘(y)ou may see a card purchase with the transaction reference in the following format… (a message or like a cause or candidate) with the phone number in the following format…”

And now, the committee claims that, “This kind of pervasive financial surveillance, carried out in coordination with federal law enforcement, without legal process, into Americans’ private transactions is alarming and raises serious concerns about the federal government’s potential abuses of Americans’ fundamental civil liberties.”

And, it wants the two companies to provide answers to these questions – pretty much, post-haste.

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