Arizona Attorney General’s Office says it will continue using mass surveillance program

Jan 21, 2023, 7:15 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Attorney General’s Office said a mass surveillance program it engineers will continue despite a report this week claiming the operation is illegal.

AG Kris Mayes’ office collects money transfer records for transactions of $500 or more sent to or from Arizona, California, Mexico, New Mexico and Texas and stores it in a database that is shared with law enforcement, an effort it says helps fight crime.

A report published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union contends the program has resulted in at least 140 illegal subpoenas and disproportionally affects those most vulnerable to law enforcement overreach.

“Courts have held that customers using money transmitter businesses do not have the same expectation of privacy as traditional banking customers,” the AG’s office told KTAR News 92.3 FM in a statement Thursday.

“While Attorney General Mayes values privacy, she will continue to utilize this tool to protect the people of Arizona.”

The database, run by organization Transaction Record Analysis Center, contained 145 million records of financial transactions as of 2021, according to the report.

The data has been shared with 440 local agencies, 80 state agencies, 53 federal agencies and 152 field offices of specific federal agencies, ACLU said.

The program was started in 2006 by the Arizona AG’s office.

“This program has been an effective tool in fighting money laundering, sex trafficking and drug trafficking cases — among others — for over a decade,” Mayes’ office said.

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Arizona Attorney General’s Office says it will continue using mass surveillance program