Republican Sens. John Thune and Marsha Blackburn are raising serious concerns about the IRS’s ability to protect taxpayer information. An official report revealed that the IRS has failed to completely remove the popular social app TikTok from all agency devices, sparking fears about the potential compromise of sensitive taxpayer data.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 25, 2024
Thune and Blackburn, both members of the Senate Finance Committee, fired off a letter to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, demanding answers about the alleged noncompliance. The senators are worried that the presence of TikTok on IRS devices, given the app’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party and concerning data practices, could jeopardize confidential taxpayer information and even undermine national security.
Their request follows a recent warning from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Information that the IRS is “not fully complying” with a federal law passed in December 2022 banning TikTok on federal devices. While the IRS took steps to block TikTok access on 6,300 mobile devices ahead of the law’s passage, the agency exempted over 2,800 devices used by the Criminal Investigations division. Additionally, the IRS has yet to inform employees of the ban through its “Bring Your Own Device” policies, with plans to update the policy by October 2024.
Thune and Blackburn, not holding back, are pressing the IRS to address these alleged infractions, especially focusing on the BYOD program. They are seeking written responses from Werfel on the number of IRS employees using personal devices for work, the potential access to confidential taxpayer information on personal devices, and the existing security measures in place to safeguard IRS data.
The concerns over TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government have only intensified in Congress, with the app’s parent company facing increasing scrutiny. Despite assurances that it has not shared U.S. user data with China, worries persist among lawmakers, viewing the app as a potential national security threat. The federal ban on TikTok applies only to government devices, despite efforts to remove the app from all phones nationwide.
The letter from Thune and Blackburn underscores their determination to hold the IRS accountable for protecting taxpayer information and ensuring compliance with laws aimed at safeguarding national security. Their aggressive stance sends a clear message that conservative Republicans are serious about putting American interests first and preventing any potential compromise of sensitive data by foreign entities.