The NSA monitors banks and credit card transactions -- sometimes in apparent violation of national laws and global regulations. The European SWIFT financial transaction network is being tapped on different levels, internal documents from the US spy agency show.
The drop copy of transactions from SWIFT is well documented. Brussels based SWIFT hasd to agree because otherwise the Americans would drop out and set up their own network. As both Mastercard and Visa are essentially US based entities, it has to be assumed that they would also be providing data, unless it is a transaction below reporting level taking place in a country with very strong data protection and banking secrecy laws. However the US is even challenging that.
Source: I used to implement "Know Your Client"/"Anti-Money Laundering" in a major bank.
The theory is great but the practice is that they construct directed graphs following money around between entities, which may be corps or individuals. Unless you are looking after the fact at a reduced number of entities, the problem is too big. It is also really hard to trace money that goes through blind corps (held by nominees), of which, forget the Caymans, three US states, are amongst the worst.
[The word "conspiracy" does not imply that something is false](http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conspiracy)
>: a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal
>: the act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal
There are several countries now trying to get rid of all their US dollars. The NSA might be considered as America's last hope at keeping the value of the US dollar afloat, likely by means of espionage, coercion and terrorism against noncooperative countries. (Oh the irony)
To name some recent examples:
Iraq (2000) tried to sell oil in Euros rather than US dollars. In 2003, trade resumed to US dollars promptly after coalition forces arrived.
Libya (2011) - Gaddafi tried to create a gold backed African currency. You know the rest of the story.
Russia and China (2012) decided to trade oil directly without using US dollars. Well let's just say these two superpowers have posed a big challenge for the US.
China (2013) announced they will no longer hold US dollars in their foreign exchange reserves.
> The NSA might be considered as America's last hope at keeping the value of the US dollar afloat
["PRISM is according to my friend in DHS the only thing propping up the US economy"](https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=255438.0)
They own 8% of US debt so if the USD or the economy collapsed they would be out billions of dollars. The US is also the biggest export location for China. At this stage the crash of the US would hurt them more than help them.
So they can follow everything that happens anywhere in the world and have been doing so since before 9-11-01, yet they say no one had any idea about 9-11 attacks/bombings in London/Boston Marathon/Benghazi etc.... Fucking lying pricks.
The major issue here is that doing anything to keep financial transactions private against an adversary like NSA will be construed as money laundering. It is money specifically that has this problem. I can legally use TOR to "launder" packets of data. If I do the exact same process of routing and obscuring money then I could have big legal troubles ahead of me. As far as I know, money laundering is laundering even if nothing illegal was done to get the money nor anything illegal is done with the money. It's laundering simply by the act itself.
Now, if bitcoin had some built in mechanism to thwart the tracing of transactions through the blockchain, then the mere use of bitcoin could be deemed money laundering. This would be terrible for bitcoin since it would shrink its market to strictly criminal activity.
Typically I have little to no faith that governments will make positive, forward-thinking policies that will protect my rights and liberties. I know that if I want to keep data private, I cannot wait for policy to make spying illegal, I need to encrypt everything I can. I know if I want to keep my metadata private, I need to use TOR or something similar. None of that is illegal for me to do. But if I want to keep my financial transactions private...my options are voting and waiting.
I agree with everything you said, except I have 0 hope in things getting solved through voting. Centralized power by it's very nature lends itself too well for corruption and/or coercion, we can see this throughout society not only in finance, business, government, but also sports (match rigging) and media.
Even if we elected a person who said he was going to do something the chances of them doing anything drop significantly. (Like Obama when he spoke of closing Gitmo, ending the war on terror, transparency with surveillance, accountability on wall street for pretty much everything, protecting whistleblowers.. has any of this actually come through?).
I see two options and I hope nobody finds this offensive because the propaganda throughout the years has been very thick and heavy.
The U.S. is run by a deep state ([It refers to a parallel secret government, organized by the intelligence and security apparatus, financed by drugs, and engaging in illicit violence, to protect the status and interests of the military against threats from intellectuals, religious groups, and occasionally the constitutional government](http://www.voltairenet.org/article169316.html)).
Whoever you put in power is threatened to play along [or else](http://tribwpix.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/kennedyshot.jpeg)
As I said both are just theories, I'm not trying to offend anyone.
I talked above a little about the centralization of power, and I think another characteristic of centralized power is it creates fertile soil for both scenarios: tyranny by shadow government, or tyranny by coercion.
This possibility is probably dawning on more than one person because a lot of people are seeing that the entire structure of the beast is held up by money printing. Hence Bitcoin is gonna blast off.
Edit: The irony of course is that the more surveillance expands, the more some kid who works for a company like STRATFOR or Booze Allen is going to invest in things like bitcoin after reading things like this. (Hello NSA!) I'd really love to see them try to stop us. But I do think this is like Chess. We need to come together and continually improve and obscure our actions, as privacy is key to remaining a free human being. If we start to slack things will go from Bradbury to Orwell REAL quick.
The documents show how comprehensively and effectively the intelligence agency can track global flows of money and store the information in a powerful database developed for this purpose.
Tracing international flows of money could help reveal political crimes, expose acts of genocide and monitor whether sanctions are being respected.
According to the document, the collection, storage and sharing of "politically sensitive" data is a highly invasive measure since it includes "bulk data -- rich personal information. A lot of it is not about our targets."