The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is denying allegations leveled by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that IRS agents may snoop through private emails, texts, and Facebook pages without a warrant as part of the agency’s investigations.
The ACLU’s charges were made after it reviewed 247 pages of IRS records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
“Respecting taxpayer rights and taxpayer privacy are cornerstone principles for the IRS,” said the IRS in statement. “Our job is to administer the nation’s tax laws, and we do so in a way that follows the law and treats taxpayers with respect.”
The IRS added: “Contrary to some suggestions, the IRS does not use emails to target taxpayers. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong.”
But according to Fox News, the 2009 IRS employee handbook says the Fourth Amendment does not protect email because citizens using the Internet do not “have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”
“The IRS should let the American public know whether it obtains warrants across the board when accessing people’s email,” says the ACLU. “And even more important, the IRS should formally amend its policies to require its agents to obtain warrants when seeking the contents of emails, without regard to their age.”