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NSA Spied on Visa, International Banking Transactions

Der Spiegel reports on new NSA revelations made possible by Edward Snowden

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

According to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency spies on international credit card and banking transactions in a program called "Follow the Money," German news magazine Der Spiegel reports on Sunday.

(Photo: Håkan Dahlström/cc/flickr) According to Spiegel's reporting, in 2011 a databank called "Tracfin" contained 180 million records collected through "Follow the Money," and contains data from NSA "target" SWIFT, a Swiss-based network that thousands of banks use for secure transactions. 

Further, 2010 documents obtained by Spiegel show that the surveillance agency also collects Visa transactions.  Spiegel reports that "NSA analysts at an internal conference that year described in detail how they had apparently successfully searched through the US company's complex transaction network for tapping possibilities."

GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, raised eyebrows over this kind of collection, according to a document obtained by Spiegel, which said that the program gathered "rich personal information," much of which "is not about our targets."

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