Feds monitor credit card transactions in real time

The federal government was recently forced to admit it routinely tracks financial information in real-time by monitoring credit card transactions, loyalty cards, and even travel reservations.

According to documents obtained by Christopher Soghoian, US law enforcement agents brazenly engage in this activity without a court order, thus neatly bypassing the Fourth Amendment.

The scariest part is that agents can write their own subpoena to access real-time financial reports, at which point they are forced to request a signed order from a judge promising the information won’t be disclosed.

This, of course, prevents financial institutions from alerting customers they are being spied on.

The above-mentioned data was disclosed after Soghoian submitted a “Sunshine” request to determine the exact legal parameters of the enigmatic “Hotwatch” program.

After initially rejecting his request, the government was forced to hand over the information after Soghoian filed a freedom of information, or FOIA request.

This disturbing Constitutional loophole illustrates just how much power the government is amassing in terms of electronic wiretapping, while blithely bypassing checks and balances in a post 9/11 world.

[Via Christopher Soghoian and Wired]