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Who’s protected by taxpayer privacy laws? Hint: not taxpayers

When you’re in the business of pointing out how often privacy law ends up protecting power and privilege, you never run out of material.

Everyone remembers Lois Lerner, the IRS official who pleaded the fifth amendment and refused to testify about her role in the agency’s scrutiny of Tea Party nonprofits. And everyone remembers her mysterious computer crash making years of emails unavailable in 2011.

Could the messages be recovered with advanced forensics? We’ll never know, because the IRS so systematically nuked Lerner’s drives that no one could ever recover anything from them.

Why? According to The Hill, “the agency said in court filings Friday that the hard drive was destroyed in 2011 to protect confidential taxpayer information.”

I’m sure the IRS feels it’s a little ungrateful of Tea Party groups to complain about the agency’s heroic efforts to protect them.



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Eugene Volokh · July 18, 2014

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