Earlier this year, it came to light that many websites that handle sensitive consumer data were secretly sending that information to Facebook without users’ knowledge. Among those companies, major health care networks and tax preparation companies like TaxSlayer have come under the most intense scrutiny. And this week, a group of US lawmakers wrote a letter to the biggest regulators in the country asking them to step in and punish the tax prep firms.
After this data sharing practice originally came to light, most of the companies changed their policies quickly and stopped. However, the lawmakers still want them to be held accountable.
“The tax prep firms were shockingly careless with their treatment of taxpayer data,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the IRS, the FTC, and the US Attorney General. “They indicated that they installed the Meta and Google tools on their websites without fully understanding the extent to which they would send taxpayer data to these tech firms, without consulting with independent compliance or privacy experts, and without full knowledge of Meta’s use of and disposition of the data.”
For its part, Facebook blamed the tax companies for sending them sensitive data and said its policies don’t allow this type of info to be processed. However, it is ultimately Facebook that wants to collect so much data in the first place, opening up the possibility that this sort of thing will happen.
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