Outrageous story of the week: Whistleblower says Bank of America gave customer gun data to FBI
This week, news emerged of a behind-closed-doors February interview of retired FBI National Security Intelligence supervisor George Hill by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. One North Carolina congressman., Rep. Dan Bishop, R-NC-8, sits on the committee and has been very vocal about weaponization of federal bureaucracies against everyday Americans.
In the interview, Hill says Bank of America, North Carolina’s largest company, gave the FBI data on all of their customers who happened to purchase anything in and around Washington, D.C., Jan. 5 through Jan. 7 of 2021, in an effort to identify potential rioters who were at the storming of the Capitol.
Hill also has spoken to conservative media on this subject in recent weeks, as can be seen below.
Of course, sometimes a company will receive a court order saying they need to turn over information to law enforcement. It is generally the right thing to do to comply, unless there are ethical reasons not to. But Hill says Bank of America mined their own customers’ data and voluntarily handed over to the FBI without being asked.
Bank of America identified anyone who used one of their products, like a credit or debit card, on those dates in those areas, and handed the list of people over to federal law enforcement. The list further pinpointed anyone who had purchased a firearm, regardless of where and when.
So if you bought a gun in 1994 in Montana with a Bank of America credit card and then happened to visit D.C. on Jan. 5, 2021, (and bought something else with a Bank of America credit card while you were there), your bank handed over your name and personal information to the FBI, if Hill’s testimony is correct.
Earlier reporting suggested that Bank of America had been asked for the information, but was not given a court order.
Bank of America’s response to this at the time was, “We don’t comment on our communications with law enforcement. All banks have responsibilities under federal law to cooperate with law enforcement inquiries in full compliance with the law.”
In 12 U.S. Code § 3403, it gives banks the right to hand over customer information to law enforcement “which may be relevant to a possible violation of any statute or regulation.” But it’s highly unusual for the banks to initiate broad investigations of their customers’ purchase history to place them in certain locations.
It’s also a chilling thought for many to think that all their purchases are being collected and monitored by a powerful activist corporation who will voluntarily turn those records over to the government. While guns are a popular target of the left, imagine how they might feel if purchases of something like the Morning After Pill were monitored and voluntarily turned over in states that are moving to ban abortion.
Pattern of activism
This is not the first time Bank of America has butted heads with gun owners either. States like Texas and Louisiana have moved to stop doing business with Bank of America in municipal bond sales to punish them for their anti-gun advocacy, like refusing loans to certain gun manufacturers.
Bank of America is well known as an activist corporation, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. They push diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), a model of using private companies to advance left-wing dogmas, and even recently announced a zero-down mortgage program targeted only to black and Hispanic neighborhoods, which legal experts told Carolina Journal pushes right up to the legal line on discriminatory lending practices. It also will likely hurt those it claims to want to help, repeating many of the same mistakes of the subprime mortgage crisis that caused a recession in 2007.
Those who still bank with Bank of America can continue to do so if they wish. But they should be aware that their personal information may be divulged to law enforcement and their interest payments may be used to advance the latest left-wing activist initiatives. So, continuing that relationship may be outrageous.