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Oopsie! IRS Exposed Thousands of SS Numbers Online

According to a July 1 audit by Public.Resource.org., as many as 2,319 Social Security numbers were exposed on the internet and the breach concerned transactions made by nonprofit 527 groups.

Which can only mean one thing, right?  Someone at the IRS is due a big raise and promotion!

The National Journal reported:

Every so often, 527s have to file tax forms to the IRS, which then get added to a database. The database itself is hardly a secret; the IRS has been sending updated records routinely to Public.Resource.org and other public-interest groups, and it's a favorite among political reporters. But when the IRS told the group's founder, Carl Malamud, to disregard the Form 990-Ts included in the agency's January release, he took a closer look at the files in question.

After analyzing the breach, Malamud wrote a letter to the IRS pointing out 10 instances where a social security number was accidentally revealed on the government's website—just a small sample of the larger breach. 

Just the day before, Malamud had filed another letter to the agency describing a problem with the 990-Ts. Of over 3,000 tax returns contained in the January update, 319 contained sensitive data the agency should have scrubbed, Malamud wrote in the July 1 report that he filed to the inspector general's office. In that mixup, some 2,319 social security numbers—perhaps more—were revealed.

***

Public.Resource.org took down its copy of the compromised 990-Ts and replaced them with a clean version that the IRS had sent. But it was another day before "senior White House officials" the IRS removed the files from public view on their end, on July 3.

Yes, the original report has a line through "senior White House officials"....

Public.Resource.org called the IRS's data security operation "unprofessional and amateur," and requested that the IRS shut down the entire 527 database to prevent further lapses.  National Journal reports that the IRS has  shut down the database—but "it should also reopen it as soon as possible in the interest of transparency."

Matthew Boyle reported at Big Government, yesterday, that Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) said that the next phase of the  investigation into the IRS scandal will "likely focus on the tax agency’s alleged abuse of power in areas like politically motivated audits and leaking of personal information."

Not a moment too soon. 

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