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Is US Getting Banks To Spy On Customers?

by | Wed, Mar 13 2024

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The US government has been accused of ordering banks to conduct “broad financial surveillance” of American citizens’ private transactions. The Christian Post reports a congressional report revealed the surveillance specifically related to religion and politics to identify people seen as potential threats to the government.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a legal nonprofit specialising in religious freedom cases, was among organisations listed as a “hate group” by the US Treasury Department which advised big banks to monitor customers’ donations to the ADF.

The US House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government said it had uncovered “startling” evidence that the government was prying into the private transactions of Americans. Its report said the surveillance was not predicated on any specific evidence of criminal conduct.

The ADF urged Congress to pass the Fair Access to Banking Act which would place restrictions on banks and other financial services that refused to do business with law-abiding citizens because of their political or religious beliefs.

According to the report, the “financial surveillance keyed in terms and specific transactions that concerned core political and religious expression protected by the Constitution.” In recent years, some major banks and financial institutions and providers have blacklisted some Christian clients and politicians and cancelled their accounts because of their beliefs, especially on sexuality and gender.

ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco testified before the Weaponization Subcommittee and urged Congress to pass the Fair Access to Banking Act which would place restrictions on banks, credit unions and payment card networks that refused to do business with law-abiding citizens because of their political or religious views. He also advised lawmakers to call for “greater transparency” from financial regulators and institutions.

“Unfortunately, many Americans have good reason to fear that these essential financial services could be abruptly canceled based on the exercise of their First Amendment freedoms. No American should be denied access to basic financial services such as a bank account, debit or credit card, or payment processing because of their religious or political views,”  Mr. Tedesco warned.

The Christian Post reports the ADF also cited cases that involve the government inducing or encouraging powerful businesses to censor and penalise everyday Americans for their speech. “Big Banks and Big Tech pose threats to freedom like Big Brother does. What’s worse is the mounting evidence that Big Brother is enlisting Big Business in its censorship schemes,” Mr. Tedesco continued.

“The federal government is attempting an end-run around the Constitution by outsourcing censorship to some of the most powerful corporations the world has ever known. But where the First Amendment is concerned, the government can’t do indirectly what it is forbidden from doing directly,” he noted.