Washington Post: In Terror War, Privacy vs. Security

In the amorphous war on terrorism, government officials believe they have a new weapon: the growing number of financial institutions that use powerful technology to monitor confidential customer activity and report suspicious behavior to law enforcement and intelligence officials.

Driven by little-known provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the anti-terror legislation that was approved after Sept. 11, banks, securities firms and other companies are deploying computer systems that draw together millions of transactions, sometimes automatically, in searches for money laundering, terrorist financing or other unusual patterns.

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