IRS Says It Will Change Its Policy On Looking At Emails Without A Warrant... At Some Point

from the good-idea,-though-a-bit-late dept

You may recall a couple weeks ago the discovery that the IRS believed that it did not need a warrant to view emails over 180 days old. That got a fair bit of attention, and recently, Senator Wyden asked the IRS about this.
And, almost immediately, the IRS folded, kind of. In response to Wyden's question about dropping the policy, the IRS's acting commissioner, Steven Miller, said that he "intends" to drop the policy... though he wouldn't give a date on when he'd drop the policy. Senator Wyden asks him to commit to a 30 day deadline to drop the policy, and Miller says he'll try his best and suggests he should be able to drop the policy by then, but does not commit to it. Also, he seems to indicate that the IRS has not used this ability (to the "best of my knowledge") -- and he also says that the IRS has not and cannot seek private info from Twitter and Facebook, but that it will use public info from those services. Of course, it makes you wonder why they had this policy in the first place. And, further, it seems ridiculous that it took until the info became public and seemed embarrassing that they decided to drop it -- but, at least, in the end, they're moving away from the practice, at some point.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 8:46am

    The IRS

    Theirs

    They want to tax all internet transactions as well: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/04/senate-passes-online-sales-tax-by-74-20-vote/

    Time to starve the beast by bartering and using alternative currency.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:03am

    Does anybody know where the IRS is getting those emails "to look at"? Who exactly is showing them? Or do they have their own snoopfeed?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:24am

    Re:

    The 180 day stipulation is reference to the ECPA

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Communications_Privacy_Act

    >For instance, email that is stored on a third party's server for more than 180 days is considered by the law to be abandoned, and all that is required to obtain the content of the emails by a law enforcement agency, is a written statement certifying that the information is relevant to an investigation, with absolutely no judicial review required whatsoever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Jesse (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:43am

    Snooping for tax purposes is a matter of national security! I feel safer already.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Anders Nielsen (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re:

    So, does that mean that anything in a archive cabinet is considered abandoned, and not because you want to preserve your information? Because then they will get into some really issues.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Michael, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:44am

    Only a government agency...

    We have a policy that it is ok for us to do something.
    We do not actually do it because...well...just because.
    Unfortunately, even though we do not engage in this behavior, we cannot commit to not doing it anymore within 30 days.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:45am

    While I dont thing any part of the government should be able to view any private emails without a warrent, public Data is public data. If IRS wants to snoop around in PUBLIC twitter and facebook pages I generaly dont care. Though it is probably a waste of time in most cases.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:49am

    In other news, pigs are reporting they are not seeking the ability to fly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 11:09am

    Re: The IRS

    I am all for that ! Just as I am also all for seeing the Majority of the Government taken out to the Public and Tarred & Feathered..........just like the days of old.The Current Government is out of control and destroying this Nation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 12:58pm

    Mike: On what basis are you claiming that Ora's claim is wrong? Because it's not at all clear that a warrant is necessary for the government to require disclosure of emails by a service provider. Certainly one is not always required. Why do you think otherwise? (And note, I'm not asking why you think warrants should be required but rather, why you think the la,w as it currently stands, requires this.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 1:00pm

    "IRS's claim", not "Ora's"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    So hands up for anyone who things that when he said he'll look into getting rid of that policy what he really meant was 'I'll ignore you and hope you don't ask about it again, but should you do so I'll again give you vague, non-committal answers'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This