The Government’s Ongoing Assault on Citizens’ Second Amendment Rights: Targeting Bank Surveillance

This week, the House Judiciary Committee has started overseeing the federal government’s activities to monitor and surveil Americans, which is against the 4th Amendment. The subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government has focused on law enforcement’s interactions with private entities to single out citizens as potential threats. The committee discovered a far-reaching surveillance program with no legal basis in the investigation of possible wrongdoing on January 6, 2021, and beyond. The program included the seemingly willingly coordination of banking institutions to hand over personal consumer data to the federal government. The House Judiciary Committee found that federal investigators requested banks to search and filter customer transactions using terms like “MAGA” and “Trump” when investigating the events of January 6, 2021. Materials sent to banks warned of “typologies” to look for when searching “various persons of interest,” including the implication that certain purchases could be indicative of potential active shooters and terrorists. The materials suggested search terms and Merchant Category Codes that could be used to identify alleged suspicious transactions and release them to federal law enforcement. The federal government also urged banks to query general purchases from stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cabela’s, and Bass Pro Shops, as well as warned that purchases of “religious texts” could indicate “extremism.” Congressman Jim Jordan expressed concerns about the federal government using large financial institutions to comb through the private transactions of their customers for suspicious charges on the basis of protected political and religious expression. It was revealed that Bank of America gave the FBI a list of people who bought goods in Washington D.C. using their debit or credit cards between January 5 and January 7, 2021, without any legal process. This has led to the federal government targeting certain Americans based on their purchasing habits as potential threats without due cause or process. This surveillance trend reflects the government’s desire to track, monitor, and control the population through American consumer activity. Some politicians are opposed to this kind of monitoring and support using cash as a way to protect individual privacy.