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Discover Financial Will Begin Tracking Firearm Purchases In April

Discover Financial Services has joined a coalition of companies that intend to track firearm and firearm-related purchases at gun stores, telling Reuters that the program will begin in April.

Discover joins Visa, Mastercard and American Express in the initiative, and the announcement follows the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) decision to approve a specialized merchant code to tag firearms stores that process credit and debit card transactions, according to Reuters. The new system is a cause for concern, as the code could lead to the surveillance of innocent Americans should the government decide to coordinate with the companies to probe sales, experts previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Discover has no plans to track cardholder purchases of firearms or provide that information to anyone, nor could we. Merchant Category Codes are used to categorize types of stores, and do not enable us to see the product that was purchased. We are not alone in using these codes; they are used consistently by all the major payment networks,” a Discover spokesperson told the DCNF.

“We strongly believe in the right of our customers to use their Discover cards for any legal purchase and remain committed to maintaining the privacy of their information,” they continued.

The Discover spokesperson told Reuters that the implementation of the new merchant code would take place in April, as they were following the lead of other companies in the initiative. The spokesperson did not comment on which other companies had decided to start using the merchant code in April.

Mastercard, Visa and American Express did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for an expected date of implementation.

Following the approval of the merchant code by the ISO in September, many Second Amendment advocates began to question the decision, as they believed the code could be abused by the government.

“If governments or credit card companies start to require certain purchase patterns at gun stores be reported to police, that could put a lot of innocent people under suspicion depending on how broad the criteria are,” Stephen Gutowski, a gun expert who founded The Reload, told the DCNF after the announcement.

On the other side of the debate, Congressional Democrats argue that the code will be a useful tool for law enforcement agents to thwart so-called domestic terrorism and mass shootings. The Democrats urged American Express, Visa and Mastercard to begin using the code after the ISO decision.

Merchant codes are used by financial institutions to classify different goods and services. The new code for firearms and firearm purchases moves away from the previous standard for firearms that placed them in the “5999: Miscellaneous retail stores” or “5941: Sporting Goods Stores” categories.

Credit card companies are not required to use the code.

In January, Florida officials introduced legislation that would prohibit financial institutions from collecting data on firearm and ammunition purchases. The officials claimed that the merchant code violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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