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Published On: Mon, Sep 16th, 2013

NSA monitoring VISA, SWIFT transactions for ‘Follow the money,’ FTM, branch and database ‘Tracfin’

The NSA has been widely monitoring international banking and credit card transactions, a new report says referencing Edward Snowden’s leak. The agency targeted Visa customers and global financial service SWIFT and created its own money flows database.

Edward Snowden NSA background donkeyhoteyReferring to information leaked by Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor, German Der Spiegel reports that the surveillance was carried out  by a branch called “Follow the Money” (FTM). 

After the information on transactions was obtained, it was redirected to the NSA’s own financial database, called “Tracfin”.

According to the leaked documents, in 2011 the database contained 180 million records, with 84 percent of those being credit card transactions details.

Among the millions of records, the NSA’s Tracfin’s also contained data from the Brussels-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). Used to conduct business operations “with speed, certainty and confidence”, this global financial service is used by more than 10,000 banking organizations in 212 countries.

The NSA spied on SWIFT on several levels, involving its “tailored access operations” division, according to the report in Der Spiegel. Reading “SWIFT printer traffic from numerous banks,” was just one of the ways the NSA was accessing the information.

One of the NSA’s goals was to “collect, parse and ingest transactional data for priority credit card associations, focusing on priority geographic regions.”

According to documents dated 2010, the agency was spying on large credit card companies’ customers, Der Spiegel adds. In particular, the NSA was getting access to transactions by Visa Inc. customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Reportedly, speaking at an internal conference that year, NSA analysts described in detail how the search through the US company’s complex transaction network for tapping possibilities was conducted.

According to one of the documents, the UK’s intelligence agency, GCHQ, admitted cooperation with the NSA to spy on the world finance system. In its report, concerning the legal perspectives on “financial data”, it said that the collection, storage and sharing of politically sensitive data was a deep invasion of privacy and involved “bulk data” full of “rich personal information,” much of which “is not about our targets.” 

Experts warn that government could start profiling people that use alternative forms of transactions such as cash or bitcoin.

 

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. NSA ‘Follow the Money’ Branch Spied on VISA Customers, SWIFT Transactions… | BitcoinMagazine.org says:

    […] ”Experts warn that government could start profiling people that use alternative forms of transactions such as cash or bitcoin. Brandon Jones – Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon…See all stories on this topic […]

  2. Report: NSA Monitors International Banking, Credit Card Transactions – TheBlaze.com « Credit Card Rate Act says:

    […] The Global Dispatch […]

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