Personal Freedom

Utah Affirms Privacy Rights in Banking Data

Last week, the Utah state legislature passed a concurrent resolution urging Congress and President Biden to protect the privacy of Americans’ banking transactions.

This resolution is in response to Biden’s plan to drastically increase surveillance of Americans’ bank accounts in an effort to identify tax dodgers. It pushes back against Biden’s proposed plan and current Supreme Court precedent reducing individuals’ privacy rights.

The Utah legislature is right to push back against unconstitutional executive actions and court rulings. One of the best features of the United States’ federalism system is that each level of government plays a crucial role in preventing a tyrannical relationship between the citizen and the government. 

Given Utah’s large industrial banking sector, federal surveillance efforts that drastically impact the privacy rights of Utah’s citizens is of concern to the state’s legislators. Implementation of such a plan would require banking institutions to choose between the privacy interests of their customers and compliance with federal regulation. 

The resolution argues that forcing banking institutions to make such a choice breaks down trust between consumers and financial institutions because privacy is a primary concern of those who refuse to participate in the banking system.

This is correct. Those who mistrust the banking system are certainly less likely to participate in banking if privacy concerns are elevated rather than alleviated. 

Legislators also state citizens have a strong privacy interest in their banking transactions, pushing back against a Supreme Court ruling holding the opposite.

Biden’s plan goes far beyond current judicial precedent and statutory authority, forcing banks to provide consumer information to the government for review as a requirement of doing business. The resulting review could lead to the IRS taking legal action against individual consumers.

This is a clear attempt by the executive branch of the government to sidestep the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment to obtain evidence of possible violations of law.

State legislatures should follow Utah’s lead and push back against federal executive actions encroaching or seeking to encroach on Americans’ fundamental liberties.