The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms is looking to build a huge “online data repository system” capable of spying on Americans and their associates via the use of just a few keywords, leading to concerns that the system will be deployed to track gun owners.
“Primarily, the ATF states it wants the database to speed-up criminal investigations. Instead of requiring an analyst to manually search around for your personal information, the database should “obtain exact matches from partial source data searches” such as social security numbers (or even just a fragment of one), vehicle serial codes, age range, “phonetic name spelling,” or a general area where your address is located. Input that data, and out comes your identity, while the computer automatically establishes connections you have with others,” reports Wired News.
The system is described by the agency as a “massive online data repository system that contains a wide variety of data sources both historically and current that can be utilized in support of investigations and backgrounds.”
Despite being involved in the Fast and Furious scandal that saw firearms shipped to drug dealers in Mexico, the ATF has increased its efforts to keep tabs on American gun owners in recent years.
Promises that the database will not be used to track gun purchases ring hollow given the ATF’s recent efforts to circumvent the law in order to obtain information on firearms sales.
Last year it was revealed that the agency was illegally demanding that gun stores in Alaska submit ’4473 Forms’ going back to 2007, paperwork filled in by customers purchasing firearms containing their personal information which under current laws is supposed to be kept by the gun dealer and not sent to any government agency.
The ATF has hardly established a reputation for itself as a transparent, honest organization. In December 2011, it was revealed that the agency discussed exploiting the Fast and Furious scandal in which it was intimately involved to pass new gun restrictions in the United States that would force firearms retailers to report the sale of multiple rifles.