Tuesday, July 9, 2013

IRS exposed thousands of social security numbers online.

The Internal Revenue Service inadvertently posted tens of thousands of social security numbers online.  Many of the social security numbers belonged to political non-profit entities that filed federal tax returns.
“On July 2, Public.Resource.Org discovered this systematic violation of Americans' privacy and notified the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. We documented our findings in an audit document, copies of which were furnished to I.R.S. officials and senior White House officials. On July 3, the administration removed this database from public view.
Public.Resource.Org uncovered this serious violation of federal law in the course of an unrelated audit which was sparked when, on June 18, the I.R.S. notified Public.Resource.Org that it had sent out an improperly-vetted shipment of data on DVD for the January release of the Form 990-T, the Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return. Because the I.R.S. had publicly released that data in February, and had not notified recipients of the bulk data subscription of this privacy breach for several months, Public.Resource.Org conducted a systematic examination of the breach and how it was handled and delivered that audit to the Inspector General on July 1, 2013. ...
…The first was the discovery of 500,000 Social Security Numbers in the Congressional Record, a situation which the Government Printing Office dealt with very quickly, although the Department of Defense was much slower to react.
The second instance was when we uncovered large numbers of Social Security Numbers in the opinions of the Courts of Appeals and then later in the U.S. District Court PACER system. Although those audits received thanks from the judges and the United States Judicial Conference, they also resulted in a great deal of resistance by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
The I.R.S. effort to date has been unprofessional and amateur. The I.R.S. has even gone so far as to assert copyright by the government on the political disclosures database in direct violation of the “works of government” clause of the Copyright Act. The I.R.S. has a policy that even in an emergency, their staff are not allowed to use e-mail to communicate with organizations such as ours, a policy that makes it much harder to respond to incidents quickly. The I.R.S. has recklessly violated the privacy of Americans and deliberately tried to keep scrutiny away from our worst charities…..”

Local, state and government agencies have for some reason always maintained a level of incompetency, the extent of which often remains in the eye of the beholder.  However, when it comes to federal agencies, the more powerful they are, such as the IRS, the more incompetent they are.
During the past four years, federal agencies, especially the IRS appears to be more incompetent than ever.
Thus I am inclined to ask if the release of so many social security numbers by Barack Obama’s thugocracy, the IRS really a matter of incompetency or something else.
Identity theft comes next courtesy of the IRS’ alleged incompetence.

Below are the documents from PublicResource.org submitted last week to the IRS and TIGTA. Documents are now also available on SCRIBD.

All posts cross-posted on PUMABydesign001's Blog