Chris Soghoian writes:
From the New York Times today:
In May, the government will no longer pay someone eligible for benefits with a mailed check. Instead, the money will be electronically deposited directly into a bank account or made accessible by a debit card. And by March 2013, the 10 million people who receive checks, out of 70 million people in all, must switch over to direct deposit or use a card.
Some see the decision as government meddling and say they fear their spending habits may be traced. But [David A. Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury department’s Financial Management Service] said that information could be obtained only with a court order in a “rare exception.”
That quote caught my eye, because I don’t think it is correct.
The RFPA requires that “no Government authority may have access to or obtain copies of, or the information contained in the financial records of any customer from a financial institution unless the financial records are reasonably described” and
1. the customer authorizes access;
2. there is an appropriate administrative subpoena or summons;
3. there is a qualified search warrant;
4. there is an appropriate judicial subpoena; or
5. there is an appropriate written request from an authorized government authority.
Read more on slight paranoia.