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US government scooped up information on money transfers without a warrant

Bulk data collection.

International money transfers are far from private according to findings by The Wall Street Journal and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Regular readers will know Reclaim The Net covered the start of this investigation almost a year ago.

Law enforcement in the US can access international money transfer details without a warrant through a controversial surveillance program the Arizona attorney general’s office approved in 2014.

The program resulted in the creation of a money transfers database managed by the Transaction Record Analysis Center (TRAC).

The database contains the full names and amounts transferred for transactions above $500 between the US, Mexico, and 22 other jurisdictions via international money transfer services like

MoneyGram and Western Union. Money transfer services like , Venmo, Cash App, Cash, and Zelle do not provide data to TRAC.

However, some domestic transfers are recorded in the database.

The aim of the program was to help law enforcement collect evidence of money laundering and fraud because, unlike banks, money transfer services are not required to collect KYC (know your customer) data.

The threshold was set at $500 to prevent the collection of data on most immigrants sending money back home to their families. According to TRAC director Rich Leber, the program has led to the arrests of criminals, including drug cartels.

The program has raised concerns about the collection of sensitive personal data. The only requirement required to access the database is being a law enforcement officer with an active government email account. An immoral officer can secretly track large transfers.

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