Nice little piece from the San Jose Mercury News (via the Honolulu Advertiser) on some of the confusion and problems caused by PATRIOT Act regulations requiring businesses that the feds consider "financial institutions" to keep track of customers:
The Patriot Act already is in effect for casinos, mutual funds, credit-card firms, banks and "money service businesses" like the Bin & Barrel, which offer such things as check cashing and money transfers. Still others–jewelers, vehicle dealers, travel agents, loan companies, investment firms and people involved in real-estate closings–are waiting for the government to issue their regulations under the act.
As word about the law spreads, many business people don't like what they are hearing.
"A lot of our members are just starting to wake up to all of the things they are required to do," said Karen Penafiel, assistant vice president for advocacy for the Building Owners & Managers Association International. When the group's executive committee held a briefing on the act in November, she said, "there was a sense that, 'you've got to be kidding.'"
At least two indictments, according to this story, have resulted from tips from financial institutions in "terrorism-related" cases, though the Feds can have rather broad definitions of what that means. Still, only about 10 percent of money service businesses have registered with the government so far as required under PATRIOT.
Reason has been keeping an eye on these issues of how PATRIOT regulations are affecting the financial sectors. See, for example, Jeff Taylor's recent Reason Online column on how Section 314 bank regs may be impacting Muslim bank customers, and John Berlau's feature story from our Nov. 2003 issue, "Show Us Your Money: The USA PATRIOT Act lets the feds spy on your finances. But does it help catch terrorists?"