The US Surveillance Injustices: history in seven charts

The Wall Street Journal this week reported that the Trump administration was in talks to expand the US Justice Department’s authority to trade in foreign technology by changing some part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a piece of legislation that dates back to the Cold War.

Photo credit: Graeme Robertson/AFP/Getty Images

The legislation has received attention in the business community since the leak of intelligence information revealing that US agencies had listened in on President Donald Trump’s phone calls. But this is by no means the first time Congress has flexed its power to spy on foreigners. The official and unofficial reportage of the recent spy-gone-wild has obscured just how deeply spy programs have evolved over the past few decades.

Yet, as Andrew Brown discovered in his often-told story, a peculiar boom occurred in share trading in November 1987 during an embargo on deals related to Iran.

When the Trading Has Abated

National Journal lays out some the impact of this development, saying it started when a manager at a California-based brokerage company shared a link to a technical paper about white-collar crime in Silicon Valley with his firm’s Washington-based officials.

Spokespeople for some major companies, including Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, and International Business Machines, are quoted in this report. Representatives for those companies also did not respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment about the recent FISA talks.

The campaign was a fascinating opportunity for traders as well as investors. The story notes that traders began pulling profits from their accounts, with some traders charging each other to exploit their foreknowledge. In fact, in the four weeks after that November trading surge, trading revenue at Morgan Stanley tripled.

The story also notes that some traders started speculating on whether the sanctions would eventually be lifted – the lull in trading did not last long after that!

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