Secure the Village – Cybersecurity News of the Week, July 16, 2023
One thing that Americans might be united on is that our tax information is private and is not to be shared. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the Supreme Court get involved on whether even Congress has the right to see personal tax returns. We expect the IRS to protect our tax information, and we expect our tax preparers to do the same. Once again, our expectations have been dashed.
A congressional report established that H&R Block, TaxSlayer, and TaxAct sold our personal tax information to Google and Meta in apparent violation of Federal law. We, the people, should be outraged at this blatant disregard for the privacy of their customers. I certainly am.
If an accountant shares a taxpayer’s personal financial information, the accountant faces the possibility of criminal prosecution, a $1,000 fine, and a year in prison. H&R Block, TaxSlayer, and TaxAct, and their executives who perpetrated this scheme, should be subject to nothing less.
Not only is it important to hold these companies accountable for their flagrant behavior, but failure also to do so will only embolden others to continue doing the same.
H&R Block, TaxSlayer, and TaxAct have crossed an important line in the sand. They deserve whatever penalties the law can provide. And their customers should run – not walk – away as fast as they can.
And Congress needs to quit fighting and pass meaningful strong privacy legislation that represents the interests of we, the people, not the interests of the data collectors.
• Tax prep sites gave millions of taxpayers’ info to Facebook and Google: A new congressional report, following reporting by a tech news outlet, finds three tax sites were sharing personal user data. … About 10 million people type their personal financial information into H&R Block, TaxSlayer, and TaxAct websites every year to prepare their taxes, trusting the companies to keep their information safe. Instead, the companies shared that personal information with Google and Facebook, some going as far back as 2011, members of Congress wrote in a new report.
• Tax prep companies shared private taxpayer data with Google and Meta for years, congressional probe finds: Some of America’s largest tax-prep companies have spent years sharing Americans’ sensitive financial data with tech titans, including Meta and Google, in a potential violation of federal law — data that in some cases was misused for targeted advertising, according to a seven-month congressional investigation.
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