Shortly after the initial leaks revealing some of the National Security Agency's (NSA's) spying program, there were claims the spy agency could be tracking credit card transactions. Now, more recent reports claim the NSA tracks banking and credit card transactions worldwide.
Although Der Spiegel claims to have documents of the NSA tracking credit cards and some banking information, others say that some of it has long been public knowledge. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
Der Spiegel reported having documents revealing an NSA branch called "Follow the Money, which it said funneled data into the NSA database Tracfin. The German paper noted this database holding 180 million records in 2011 -- 84 percent being credit card information.
Documents dated 2010, allegedly show the agency targeted customers at companies like Visa:
Their aim was to gain access to transactions by VISA customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to one presentation. The goal was to "collect, parse and ingest transactional data for priority credit card associations, focusing on priority geographic regions."
In a statement to Spiegel, Visa denied any knowledge of unauthorized access to its network.
"Visa takes data security seriously and, in response to any attempted intrusion, we would pursue all available remedies to the fullest extent of the law. Further, its Visa's policy to only provide transaction information in response to a subpoena or other valid legal process," Visa's statement continued.
In addition to documents revealing NSA monitoring credit card information, Spiegel claims to have found evidence of NSA's database holding info from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), based in Brussels.
It notes the NSA accessing SWIFT targets through "printer traffic from numerous banks." As TheBlaze has reported before, printers connected to the Internet can be vulnerable to hacking.
"It’s also worth noting that as long as the agencies are focusing their activities on the actions of foreigners then there’s not even anything illegal happening by our domestic laws. If they’re mass tapping the and or SWIFT networks inside the US then this is a very different matter," Tim Worstall, a Forbes contributor, wrote.
Worstall also pointed out that this information isn't "much of a revelation ...as we already knew very well that this was going on, actually have governmental agreements to cover it and this is what we expect a spy agency to be doing anyway." According to Worstall, Tracfin was revealed in 2006 and agreed upon under U.S. law.