"The FBI regularly uses these legal powers — known as national security letters — to compel credit giants to turn over non-content information, such as records of purchases and locations, that the agency deems necessary in national security investigations. But these letters have no judicial oversight and are typically filed with a gag order, preventing the recipient from disclosing the demand to anyone else — including the target of the letter."
I really don't like these articles that attempt to make it seem like everyone's rights are being violated every single day, but they are good for seeing what kind of data is available in the first place. Like Level 3 data, which tracks individual product items on a transaction in addition to the total amount of sale.
In the future, buying a hotdog at 7-11 at 3 in the morning is likely to lower a mortgage score by 50pts.
The only difference between the US surveillance on their citizens and the Chinese surveillance on their citizens is the Chinese don't hide the fact they do it. Assume that everything you do is tracked and shared with the government because it's very likely that it is.
I can't really dive too deep into it because of TOS but it doesn't matter how many requests have been made. What matters is that these requests have been made at all. That means that anyone's info can be asked for, it just hasn't been asked because it hasn't been needed yet.
I think the thing to keep in mind is that these requests are done during the course of an investigation.
For Title III wiretaps, for instance, a judge's okay is required for each one, every time. But this level of credit information request is far less invasive - and this does not need a judge signing off on every one, just like they don't need one to pull your DMV or criminal records. The FBI investigates things such as domestic terrorism and kidnappings. In such instances, yes, it's absolutely necessary to know where a subject's credit card is being used; no, you don't want to notify the subject nor ask their permission.
It's not randomly picking individuals and checking their credit card purchases in order to find something to investigate; it's the other way around.