IRS Promises To Abandon Warrantless Email Spying After Public Outcry

The IRS chief has promised to abandon a controversial policy of snooping emails without a warrant. During congressional testimony, the IRS’s acting commissioner, Steven Miller, said “we intend to do that” after Sen. Ron Wyden (CrunchGov Grade: A) asked whether the agency would ditch its warrantless spying policy.

The IRS spying policy came under intense scrutiny after documents released to the American Civil Liberties Union indicated that they asserted brazen permission to hunt down suspected tax dodgers. “The Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communication,” wrote IRS Criminal Tax Division’s Office of Chief Counsel in 2009.

It appears that this latest testimony is a partial victory for civil libertarian netizens — partial, because the IRS did not answer whether it will apply its new privacy-sensitive policies to non-email electronic communications.