It is well-known now, thank to Snowden's leaks of information, that major IT companies like Google and Microsoft are required to cooperate with the NSA on matters of national security. They do by providing information when asked, providing access keys to their software or voluntarily implementing backdoors. Webcams and microphones on laptops can be activated without the user consent and knowledge. There are also backdoors on smartphones.

These IT companies are obviously a goldmine of information for the NSA. Another source of information would be banks and other financial institutions. I guess that American banks are also required by law to collaborate with the NSA.

By which means do they cooperate with the NSA ?

As a side questions, are non-American banks out of reach of NSA's influence?

  • 1
    Nothing is outside of our reach. Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


According to some of Edward Snowden's documents, the NSA created a program called "Tracfin" used by a National Security Agency branch called "Follow The Money". The program contains records, many of which are credit card transactions. However, the documents only named two particular companies to work with to get these financial records: Visa and "the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a Belgian network used globally by financial institutions to send and receive information about transactions". As far as we know, the NSA and banks may not directly cooperate much, but the NSA may be getting records from Visa and a specific messaging system to get their information. Visa responded to the documents by stating they were unaware of any tapping or tracing of records by the NSA (which could either mean the NSA tapped their network without their knowledge or is working with the NSA to provide records):

“Visa takes data security seriously and, in response any attempted intrusion, we would pursue all available remedies to the fullest extent of the law,” the statement said. “Further, it’s Visa’s policy to only provide transaction information in response to a subpoena or other valid legal process.”

So, the answer is we don't know how banks cooperate with the NSA and for all we know, the cooperation of one company and a few intermediary companies that handle banking transactions are all the NSA needs to get your financial information. Even non-American banks are not safe.

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