As Greece's painfully desperate fight to collect tax revenue, any tax revenue, using traditional methods meets failure after grotesque failure, driven by such unconventional stumbling blocks as running out of ink with which to print tax forms, striking tax collectors, and repossessed (or stolen) tax department computer equipment, the necessity to prove to Europe that Greece is doing something to fill the income side of its reformist ledger has forced it to turn to the glaringly illegal. As Greek Reporter notes, "Greece’s General Secretariat for Information Systems has completed an application that will allow the state’s monitoring and collection mechanism to access the country’s banking system via an online connection and let the government have access to depositor bank accounts. The application, which will let the Finance Ministry troll through the accounts of all depositors suspected of tax evasion means online inspectors can scour through records of deposits, loans, credit card use and other data without permission from the account holder."
What is troubling is that while this happens in the US on a daily basis, at least the NSA has to dig through data illegally, and can't use what it finds against citizens in court.
In Greece, however, any trace of personal privacy in the insolvent state is now gone, and in a way that is made very public and clear to all citizens. The result will be an even greater hit to all forms of electronic spending (remember that all bulk cash transactions are prohibited), and a collapse in all economic transactions, leading to an even more acute depression, and an even greater need to yet another "bailout" from Europe (this one will be the last surely, as it will be after this it will be different).
From Greek Reporter:
Until now, the law did not allow even investigators to check bank records, but Greece is under intense pressure from international lenders putting up $325 billion in two bailouts to find tax cheats and up tax revenues.
The system is ready and some virtual checks on accounts have already been conducted successfully, also helping with the training of the employees who will handle and store all bank data in the ministry’s server, the newspaper Kathimerini reported.
The bill that will allow monitoring mechanisms, police and anti-money-laundering authorities to use the data will be tabled in Parliament next month and the System of Bank Account Registers will be in full operation as of September.
The aim is to reduce the time needed to investigate significant cases with a direct benefit for the state budget and public coffers, officials said. Those using the system will be able to search through accounts and loan transactions simply using the tax registration number of the person being investigated.
All this, of course, is coming to America soon.