Philadelphia Inquirer – 03/21/2006:

The IRS is quietly moving to loosen the once-inviolable privacy of federal income-tax returns. If it succeeds, accountants and other tax-return preparers will be able to sell information from individual returns – or even entire returns – to marketers and data brokers.

The change is raising alarm among consumer and privacy-rights advocates. It was included in a set of proposed rules that the Treasury Department and the IRS published in the Dec. 8 Federal Register, where the official notice labeled them “not a significant regulatory action.”

  1. Mike says:

    Well, I suppose it is the individual’s information. Just like with anything else, if you want to use a service that sells your info, that’s your choice. They should have to require your consent first, however.

  2. Lou says:

    It is getting crazy out there. While I don’t have any basic problems with getting informed consent, I do agree that in the real world, it will be abused.


    There is no specific right of privacy in the USC, and I think the Congress and Courts have done a reasonable job balancing commerce vs. the implied rights.

    To help them make future decisions, we need to codify it into the ‘TEXT’ so to speak.

    I think a privacy amendment would go over very well with the public, and have a high chance of passing. The established interests against it would fight with lots of $$$, time and effort, but ultimately they would lose.

    My question to this blog: How could we word an amendment in a few sentences that would cover all we would like. Any takers?

    One related/side note: Lets be realistic here… there is no human or constitutional right to get a loan, mortgage, etc. If someone is going to lend us hundreds of thousands of dollars, they do have a right to “private” information, including a reasonable financial history. In other words, we don’t want to limit commerce (or law enforcement) as we know/need it, but we do want our privacy guarded.

    Lets get to it……

  3. ECA says:

    NO WAY in @$#$@$ can they have my rights to sell my info..
    UNLESs they wish to pay me 1/2… Then i might have enough to purchase some of it.

  4. jasontheodd says:

    IRS (invasive rectum stretching)

    This is not a new insult by any means, but given the screwing they gave us, I feel it should be repeated. How many can you come up with???

  5. John Wofford says:

    They can’t sell it unless you give them written permission; it’s a dangerous world, read before signing and don’t sign unless there is something in it for you. Better yet, do the damned things yourself. Just another example of scare tactic journalism.

  6. Mike says:

    What exactly would a “privacy amendment” do with regards to this? The purpose of the Bill of Rights is only to protect your rights from the government. This has nothing to do with a private tax preparation company selling your information. If you agree, via contract, that the company can sell that info, there is nothing a Constitutional privacy right can do about it.

  7. Improbus says:

    Which ever politician stands up and says “NO!” to any more of this crap will get my vote for President. Corporate America’s greed knows no bounds. It’s time to put the collar back on the dog instead of letting the dog maul us.

  8. Dave Drews says:

    Don’t you people get it? All the world’s a corporation and our President is just the current CEO of our little subsidiary. If buying and selling the info of us worker bees makes the corporation more money for the stockholders, then sell we must!

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m as much a greedy capitalist pig (ha, ha, fooled some of you, eh?) as the next taxpayer, but like separation of church and state, I believe there should be separation of government and business. Ya know, old, out of date Republican values of small government for the people.

  9. david says:

    Bush is selling away America to foreign investors. Everything is for sale, my freinds.

  10. joshua says:

    Geez Dave Drews, you surprised me with your statement……
    Ya know, old, out of date Republican values of small government for the people.
    I agree with you wholeheartdly, but I’m not holding my breath for either party to roll back goverment.

    To David……The selling of this country has been going on since the end of WWII…’s what we do….if we can’t seel you a product, we will gladly sell you the company. Dosen’t matter if it’s Bush or Clinton or Esinhower in office.

  11. rus62 says:

    The IRS is just following the telephone companies. If you pay to have an unlisted and unpublished number the telephone company can still sell it without your knowledge or consent. Also, isn’t the US Gov’t subsidizing large corporations doing business in Japan — I thought I saw this on 60 minutes many years ago. All of this was before Bush. It is the establishment of our Gov’t (Dem or Rep).

    I know you Bush haters want to blame this on him like the Clinton haters wanted to blame things on Clinton when he was in office. But you do have a point he (Bush) is the man in charge now, as was Clinton and his predecessors before him… and Bush should be to blame if this gets through…along with our congress.

    It’s amazing how the congress got in an uproar over the DP Worlds port deal even though we have Chinese and other companies doing the same thing on the West coast. Remember, Congress stopped the DP Worlds port deal even though our President wanted it to go through — this is an example of the power of our congress.
    Now why isn’t the congress in an uproar over this? Only one Senator? C’mon!!! The reason is probably money like some of you have already said. And some of that money may be going into campaigns, the RNC, and the DNC.

    The only way the people can speak is to drop your political banners and vote everyone out of office. Until this is done they will keep screwing us. That will be the wake up call. Note: Most ballots, if not all, have removed the incumbent symbol. So us idiot voters have to think.

    Just imagine Dem. and Rep. voters coming together to vote everyone out of office. Now that IS THE THIRD PARTY! I doubt if we will see it though. So bend over and grab your ankles for another delivery.

  12. Mr. Fusion says:

    Lou makes a very good case. There should be some sort of personal information privacy protection.

    People, stop and think. On one letter from your health insurer is enough information for an ID thief to steal your identity. Your name, SSN, and address are all right there. Can anyone tell me why the health insurance companies all want to use your SSN as an ID number?

  13. Lou says:

    “What exactly would a “privacy amendment” do with regards to this? The purpose of the Bill of Rights is only to protect your rights from the government.”

    1. My basis for the privacy amendment is mostly against government intrusions, but I do feel the amendment should encompass other private transactions, at least tipping the scales towards protection of personal information (when it comes before a judge).

    2. The basis of the Bill of Rights was to protect against the government, but other amendments have been used to invalidate transactions between private parties, such as discrimination because of race, etc.

    I guess I really want an amendment in this case more as a referendum to the government and business. Of course, it should probably be more like a regular law, and include things like:

    * the information must be deleted by all parties privy to it, every two years, unless the person renews the privilidge

    etc. etc. etc.

    Either way, I still think we need a privacy amendment.

  14. rus says:

    #14 Paul – That’s it! Blame your toe stubbing on Bush. That’s something my wife would agree on if I said that.

  15. Mr. Fusion says:

    Lou, I’m on board with you on this. The problem I see is as others have pointed out, an amendment only applies to Government interaction, not the private sector. The Government MUST stop private industry using the SSN as an Identity Number. Private Corporations must be prohibited from treating personal information as a public commodity unless there are safe guards and repercussions for abuse. I continually hear about how to protect myself from ID theft, but I don’t see any action on prohibiting many of the causes.

  16. Mr. Fusion says:

    I spilled very hot coffee on me this afternoon. I think it was Clinton’s fault.


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