Oops…The Internal Revenue Service has made a pretty big mistake. It has been reported that they posted the Social Security numbers of tens of thousands of people on the internet before taking down the information when a whistleblower pointed out the mistake. One estimate put the figure as high as 100,000 names. This new revelation comes after the controversy created with the scandal involving the IRS’s scrutiny of political groups seeking nonprofit status, the revelation that it claims the power to read taxpayers’ emails, and lavish spending at fundraisers and corporate events.
Public.Resource.org, the Web site which specializes in the posting of government documents in the public domain, identified the privacy breach and quickly alerted the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Public.Resource.Org founder Carl Malamud said in a statement that his organization found the IRS had posted a database containing the filings of Section 527 political organizations such as campaign committees. His site discovered the privacy breach on July 2nd and notified TIGTA. They documented its findings in an audit document and sent copies to IRS officials and senior White House officials. A day later on July 3rd, the administration removed the database from public view.
Malamud hopes the Obama administration will act to restore access to the agency’s nonprofit database and resolve its concerns over what it described as a “serious violation of federal law.” The IRS said it is “assessing the situation and exploring available options” after the release of the watchdog report.
We will continue to keep you up to date as more information becomes available.
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