Your New Facebook Friend: The IRS


TaxProf Blog
March 17, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF Posts Documents Detailing Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites:

EFF has posted documents shedding light on how law enforcement agencies use social networking sites to gather information in investigations. The records, obtained from the IRS and DOJ Criminal Division, are the first in a series of documents that will be released through a FOIA case that EFF filed with the help of the UC Berkeley Samuelson Clinic.

One of the most interesting files is a 2009 training course that describes how IRS employees may use various Internet tools — including social networking sites and Google Street View — to investigate taxpayers.

The IRS should be commended for its detailed training that clearly prohibits employees from using deception or fake social networking accounts to obtain information. Its policies generally limit employees to using publicly available information. …

The documents released by the IRS also include excerpts from the Internal Revenue Manual explaining that employees aren’t allowed to use government computers to access social networking sites for personal communication, and cautioning them to be careful to avoid any appearance that they’re speaking on behalf of the IRS when making personal use of social media.

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