Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) speaks during a Senate Banking Committee hearing at the Capitol in Washington, DC, June 13, 2023. The commission held a hearing to consider the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress.
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A group of lawmakers led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of the Massachusetts Democratic Party is calling on the Biden administration to investigate how tax preparation software companies illegally shared customer data with technology platforms. Google and meta.
In letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Lina Kern, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service Daniel Werfel and Treasury Commissioner J. Russell George, lawmakers outlined the key findings. clarified. from your own probe expand report from Markup and The Verge, first revealed data sharing. The FTC declined to comment for the letter, and other agencies named did not respond to requests for comment.
In an article published last year, the publications jointly named tax preparation software company TaxSlayer, H&R Block, and TaxAct shared sensitive financial information with Meta’s Facebook through a code known as a pixel. The report found that Meta’s pixel tracker violated the platform’s policies by sending names, emails, and income information to Meta.
The report also revealed that TaxAct had sent similar information to: Google However, the information did not include names.
After the initial reports, both Meta and Google told CNBC that they have policies against customers and advertisers sending confidential or personal information. Some statements provided to the publication by the tax preparation firm at the time appeared to indicate that the data sharing happened by chance.
Based on the original report, a group of seven lawmakers launched an independent investigation into the extent of data sharing. In the findings released Wednesday, lawmakers said millions of taxpayers’ information is shared with big tech companies through tax preparation software, and both tax preparation firms and tech companies treat sensitive information. He said it was “reckless” on his part. The companies said the information shared would be anonymous, but lawmakers said experts didn’t think it would be difficult to tie the data to individuals.
Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon; Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut; Democratic Illinois, Tammy Duckworth; Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont; Sheldon Whitehouse, ILimit; I joined his investigation and correspondence.
Lawmakers said the tax preparation firm installed Meta and Google’s tools without a full understanding of their privacy implications, but both technology platforms are well-informed about how they collect and use information collected through the tools. information could not be provided. Both Meta and Google said they had filters to catch sensitive data inadvertently collected, but they appeared to be “ineffective,” lawmakers wrote.
The investigation also found that the metatool used by TaxAct allegedly gathered more information than previously reported, including an estimate of how much federal tax an individual should pay. They said they acknowledged that Meta used data collected from tax software providers to “target advertisements to taxpayers, including companies other than tax preparation firms, and to train Meta’s proprietary AI algorithms.”
The group said its investigation showed the tax preparation firm “may have violated taxpayer privacy laws,” and criminal charges of “up to $1,000 per charge and up to one year in prison,” according to the letter. I believe that there may be penalties.
After urging authorities to investigate and prosecute if necessary, lawmakers said new policies could ease the problem in the future.
“We also welcome the recent announcement by the IRS that next year there will be a free direct filing pilot, which will allow taxpayers to pay their taxes without sharing their data with unreliable and incompetent tax preparation firms. can be done,” they wrote.
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