(Reuters) - The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is collecting records of international money transfers under the same law that the National Security Agency uses to collect Americans’ phone and Internet records, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The data, which includes records from companies such as Western Union Co, is part of a database of financial and personal information authorized under the Patriot Act, the newspapers reported, citing unnamed current and former government officials.
The data does not include transfers within the borders of the United States or bank-to-bank transactions, they said.
The CIA declined to comment on specific programs to both newspapers but said its operations comply with the law. Reuters could not immediately reach the CIA or Western Union for comment.
The scope of data collection by government became public earlier this year after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents describing how the government collects far more Internet and telephone data than previously known.
The Obama administration and many lawmakers have defended the NSA programs as crucial in protecting U.S. national security and helping thwart past militant plots. They have also said the programs are carefully overseen by Congress and the courts.
Reporting by Lisa Shumaker; editing by Tom Pfeiffer