GOP Committee Demands BoA Records On FBI Data Sharing

On Thursday, a GOP-led House subcommittee issued a subpoena to Bank of America (BoA), intensifying the scrutiny over the bank’s disclosure of personal customer data to the FBI in the wake of the January 6 Capitol protests. The Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) announced the subpoena through a press release.

The controversy stems from BoA’s voluntary provision of customer financial records to the FBI without a legal mandate, focusing on transactions made in the Washington, D.C., area from January 5 to January 7, 2021. This included a comprehensive list of individuals using BoA credit or debit cards and, notably, those who had purchased firearms with a BoA product, irrespective of the purchase timing or location. The bank’s actions have raised alarms over privacy concerns and the potential for overreach by law enforcement agencies​​​​.

Jordan and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) expressed concerns over the lack of a transparent legal process that would allow such extensive data sharing. The duo first sought this information in June, only to be met with resistance from BoA, which claimed adherence to a “legal process.” The bank’s refusal to comply voluntarily has led to the current subpoena, compelling the production of documents while ensuring that sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers and birthdates, be redacted to protect privacy​​.

A BoA spokesperson has defended the bank’s conduct, stating that all actions were within the bounds of the law, coordinated with the Trump Administration’s Treasury Department, and prompted by potential threats to the inauguration ceremony. Despite these assertions, the committee continues to ascertain whether the current legal frameworks suffice in safeguarding American citizens’ financial privacy​​.

The subcommittee’s actions echo a broader congressional interest in preventing federal agencies’ unwarranted collection of Americans’ private information. This incident has sparked a conversation about the delicate balance between national security interests and individual privacy rights. The investigation is part of a more extensive inquiry into the practices of financial institutions in the context of national security and law enforcement collaborations​​.

Bank of America is expected to respond to the subpoena by December 15. The documents and communications being demanded cover a broad scope, including any internal databases related to firearms purchases by BoA customers. As the December deadline approaches, the committee’s findings could have significant implications for consumer privacy laws and the future of data sharing between private entities and government agencies​​.

The House GOP’s investigation has a dual aim: to shed light on the activities surrounding January 6 and safeguard American citizens’ constitutional rights. The unfolding events will undoubtedly be watched closely as they hold the potential to reshape the intersection of privacy, banking, and law enforcement in the United States.