The Internal Revenue Service has reportedly posted the Social Security numbers of tens of thousands of people on the Internet before taking down the information when a whistleblower pointed out the mistake.
The Web site Public.Resource.org, which specializes in posting government documents in the public domain, discovered the privacy breach and promptly alerted the IRS, as well as the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Public.Resource.Org founder Carl Malamud said in a statement that his organization found the IRS had posted a database containing the filings of Section 527 political organizations such as campaign committees. “This Section 527 database is an essential tool used by journalists, watchdog groups, congressional staffers and citizens,” he wrote. “While the public posting of this database serves a vital public purpose (and this database must be restored as quickly as possible), the failure to remove individual Social Security Numbers is an extraordinarily reckless act.”