Senators Caution IRS Against Snooping Email

In related news, tax audits of members of Congress skyrocketed ...


A dozen U.S. senators warned the IRS today against warrantless snooping on taxpayers' confidential e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter messages.

In a stiffly worded letter to the tax collection agency, they asked the "IRS to confirm that it will immediately establish a warrant requirement when it wants to obtain e-mail and other electronic personal correspondence" from American companies.

The letter also asked the IRS to "provide a timeline" for updating its internal procedures to guarantee that the contents of electronic files would be accessed only after agents follow the privacy-protective traditional procedure of obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge. Among the senators signing it: Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

It comes a day after the IRS's acting chief faced stiff questioning during a Senate hearing about the agency's controversial policies, and a week after internal documents surfaced—first reported by CNET—saying Americans enjoy "generally no privacy" in their confidential electronic communications.