Spy gate scandals are truly one of the biggest issues that plague America in this day and age and should be something that everyone is concerned about. No matter where they occur or by whom, those that steal the private information of others to get the better of them are not above the law. One such case of this insidious act is when an American bank, such as Bank of America, forfeited the private information of hundreds of individuals because investigatory agencies asked. Indeed, hundreds of customers is an understatement compared to the amount of private information that was disclosed to federal agencies in the form of hotel stays, weapon purchases, flight purchases, even food purchases; like a Mcmuffin. This investigation occurred for the dates of Jan. 5th and Jan. 6th in order to find what they believed to be suspects involved in some of the more extreme acts of the January 6th, D.C. riots.
The protests in D.C were such that even though they were asked by the then President Trump to be peaceful and non-violent, corrupt and violent actions did break loose at the capital. However, while the majority of the protests were indeed peaceful, some were violent in the general D.C. area. This is most likely why the second largest bank in America, ironically, dubbed Bank of America, was asked by federal authorities to hand over customer information. Unfortunately, while this may seem to be an action with pure intention and justice in mind, it actually speaks to a deeper concern about the surveillance used on American citizens. It’s curious that the second largest bank in America would simply willingly hand over the private information of its customers without their consent, because they’ve entrusted their information to a private institution.
Understandably, there is a law that allows banks to assist federal law enforcement agencies when they are asked to hand over private information; law 12 U.S.C. 3403.
“Nothing in this chapter shall preclude any financial institution, or any officer, employee, or agent of a financial institution, from notifying a Government authority that such institution, or officer, employee, or agent has information which may be relevant to a possible violation of any statute or regulation.”
Emphasis in the original. Though this law technically makes banks have to comply with any request from the justice department it’s incredibly vague in what it demands. As it says, “may be relevant”. For example, though the protests at the capital did go out of control, there was a good reason for people to protest the election. However, a line must be drawn for what constitutes evidence to retrieve banking records for people suspected of criminal activity. The Bank of America refused to respond to fox news about what exactly the parameters of the criminal investigation entailed, but no one can know for sure who it is.
The fact is, unless a true criminal profile can be determined, it’s not fair under the constitution for a private corporation like a bank to simply hand over banking records of citizens without their consent. This is why laws like 12 U.S.C. 3403 should be altered to increase specificity of investigation, as well looking into notifying the people that they are being investigated by the justice department, with extreme accuracy as to why they are being investigated, like a police write up of their specific conduct or witness testimony.
This author highly recommends that investigation reform take place in order to maximize the liberties granted to United States citizens so they have a much more balanced and fair reception to criminal investigation when suspected of criminal activity.