Practice Advisory: Law Enforcement Access to Wire Transfer Data

(Updated Jan. 18, 2023, see below) Since 2010, law enforcement agencies in the United States have had direct access to an increasing volume of bulk data about people’s wire transfer transactions. The core of this previously secret program is a database containing records of virtually every money transfer of more than $500 sent to, from, or within Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, or Mexico.

This practice advisory aims to: 1) explain what was involved in this bulk money transfer surveillance program; and 2) provide defense counsel with potential challenges to it.

Documents

Update – Jan. 18, 2023: More details have emerged about this bulk wire transfer surveillance program since this advisory’s May 2022 publication. This new information—including the Arizona Attorney General’s response to an ACLU public records request, and revelations about other involved wire transfer companies and countries—is available in a Wall Street Journal article, along with a blogpost from the ACLU. The updated information will also be made available in a forthcoming article in The Champion. This advisory will be updated soon.

 

Law Enforcement Access to Wire Transfer Data with Nathan Freed Wessler

 

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