If you’ve sent a money transfer over $500 to another person in recent years, there’s a decent chance U.S. law enforcement agencies could know about it. That’s according to new documents unearthed by The American Civil Liberties Union and The Wall Street Journal that show more than 600 law enforcement agencies reportedly had access to a database that includes more than 150 million transfer records for Americans and people from more than 20 different countries. Officers were reportedly able to access those records, which include the full names of senders and recipients, without a warrant. In a statement sent to Gizmodo, the ACLU described the previously undisclosed monitoring system as, “One of the largest government surveillance programs in recent memory.”
Law enforcement agencies, from small-time local police departments to some of the largest federal policing agencies, accessed the records from a shadowy database housed in Arizona. Ostensibly, those records would help law enforcement collect evidence of fraud, money, laundering and other crime. Critics, however, say the program vastly overstepped its reach and potentially puts at risk immigrant and low-income communities mostly likely to use money transfer systems. Continue reading for some of the biggest takeaways of the report.