Stories like this remind us why it is a bad idea to let the government stockpile information about private citizens and why we should be against national ID cards and similar programs.
Computer-security flaws at the
tax-collection agency expose millions of taxpayers to potential identity theft or illegal police snooping, according to a congressional report released Monday. U.S.
Any computer database, if readliy accessible its intended users, can be compromised by an attacker. The more information that is stored in one place, the greater the attraction it poses to unauthorized users, thieves and overzealous government officials. In this case, it sounds like the database and computer system are so accessible that literally thousands of people could easily wreak havoc.
In all, 7,500
IRSemployees, law enforcers and outside contractors can access and modify tax returns and financial-crime reports, the GAO found.
A master list of passwords and user names is also widely available, the report said.
"Increased risk exists that unauthorized users could ... claim a user identity and then use that identity to gain access to sensitive taxpayer or Bank Secrecy Act data," the report said.
Identity thieves have used stolen passwords to gain access to nearly half a million profiles of
citizens maintained by data brokers ChoicePoint Inc and LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier . U.S.
I don't fear black helicopters in the night and I really don't believe that our government is out to get us. Nevertheless, stories like these prove to me that nobody, our government included, should be trusted with any more information about private citizens than is absolutely necessary. It is bad enough that credit tracking companies such as