The U.S. Internal Revenue Service published a series of social security numbers belonging to individuals in political organizations seemingly by accident. The government agency keeps a public database of these organizations for research and has since taken it down.
Public.Resource.Org, which says it helps make government information more accessible by putting it all in one place, discovered the issue and alerted the U.S Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, according to a statement from the organization. The IRS quickly took down the database. The group says it found the issue as part of a separate audit it was performing after the IRS sent out a number of DVDs with data that Public.Resource.Org said was “improperly vetted.” It planned on giving that audit report to the Inspector General.
“This is only one of several exempt organization databases that the IRS has totally bungled. They’ve become addicted to bad Internet hygiene and it is time now for the Service to admit it needs help,” said the Public.Resource.Org’s Carl Malamud to Boing Boing. “We deserve better for the public filings of exempt organizations, a category that makes up 10% of US wages and over $1.5 trillion in economic activity.”
It seems the IRS is moving to get the database restored as quickly as possible, but only after the appropriate social security number redaction is made.