After the disclosure of the widespread network of snooping by the NSA, another secret surveillance protocol is out in the light, this time involving the CIA. This CIA system reportedly uses its infrastructure to collect cross border money transfer data from US services like the Western Union. The agency has been functioning under the authority of the same provisions in the Patriot Act that the NSA uses as a justification of collecting call records from American telephone networks. Just like the NSA protocol, the CIA also seeks refuge in the highly controversial FISA or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The rulings of this act are subject to an equally controversial FISA court justice system.
Leading media outlets like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal published detailed reports based on the available information, and citing anonymous government officials. However, the first report does not blatantly state that the CIA is collecting financial data. However, the reporter mentions the fact that if and when the CIA collects the data to monitor and regulate terrorist activity, it sends them down to the FBI to conduct an investigation on the matter. Both publications clarified that CIA does not accept the existence or the responsibility of setting up the surveillance system. Both publications maintained to publish a disclaimer from the CIA that it collects data in accordance to US laws and always upholding the privacy rights of the American citizens.
When the reporters contacted the Western Union, the company was quick to clarify its positions. The Union assured that the collection of consumer information is in accordance with the guidelines of the Bank Secrecy Act and other relevant regulations. Western Union confirmed that they maintain the best efforts in ensuring the privacy of their consumers. However, amidst these various clarifications, the Times notes that the reported presence of the CIA program indicates that the extent of Federal data collection programs is still largely vague and require elaborate discussions to answer questions on security and privacy of the American citizens. The WSJ also points out that this newest revelations point to the fact that the lines between domestic and foreign intelligence are blurring rampantly, as government agencies continue to use technological advancements to set up an elaborate data collection framework.
The constant surveillance controversies directly points to the fact that the time has come for the truth to come to light. With mainstream media networks like the WSJ and the NYT reporting on the issue, it is evident that there is a general consensus among the public about revealing the secret ways of intruding on privacy. The surveillance menace poses major threats of data insecurity for each and everyone, from individual citizens to major private corporations like Google. Not without reason, recently Google engineers expressed their discontent by very strong personal opinions on the discreet data collection system by the NSA. Especially when the global reputation of the brands depends on their trustworthiness in maintaining user privacy, the secret surveillance is an issue that is fast becoming a source of mainstream discontent.