IRS is mining Taxpayer Data on Social Media—In potential violation of Federal Privacy Law, the IRS now uses big data analytics to data mine public and commercial data pools (including social media) to create highly detailed profiles on taxpayers. In an article on his TaxProf blog, Pepperdine University School of Law Dean Paul L. Caron argues that the IRS’s data mining activities are a significant threat to privacy. Facebook posts from your vacation, or a purchase of a fancy new car could be attracting views from the federal government. The IRS’s lack of transparency and accountability in data collection may also result in discrimination. Recent reports state that as its staff shrinks, the IRS has turned to mining social media and large data sets in search of taxpayers to audit. Other concerns regarding the IRS’s data mining activities include the potential for political targeting, data breaches and the misuse of such information. Want to learn more? A recent law review article examines the privacy issues resulting from the big data analytics program: Kimberly Houser & Debra Sanders (Washington State), The Use of Big Data Analytics by the IRS: Efficient Solutions or the End of Privacy as We Know It?, 19 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 817 (2017).
Jacqueline A. Kramer
Attorney at Law