Banks on the hunt, customer data in search of ‘TRUMP’.

January 18, 2024
1 min read

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) asked banks to search customer data for references to “Trump” and “MAGA” following the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, according to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). The request came to light as part of a probe by the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which demanded testimony from FinCen’s former Strategic Operations Division director. Jordan called the financial surveillance “alarming” and accused FinCen of conducting “pervasive financial surveillance” based on protected political speech. FinCen also provided financial institutions with search terms and indicators for identifying potential suspects, including references to “Lone Actor/Homegrown Violent Extremism,” purchases of books or subscriptions containing extremist views, and transactions related to firearms or sporting goods. Jordan argued that these searches were carried out despite the lack of any apparent criminal activity and raised concerns about the protection of privacy and constitutional rights. In a separate letter, Jordan also asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to make a senior official from the bureau’s Strategic Partner Engagement Section available for an interview about Bank of America’s cooperation with the FBI after the riot. Jordan criticized the bank for voluntarily snooping through customer data without legal process and providing the FBI with information on 211 individuals who made certain purchases in and around Washington, D.C. before and after the riot. Only one of those individuals was brought in for questioning, and none were arrested.

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