In late 2020 we began to see an emerging trend at TDS - new clients and others reported terrible experiences with cyberstalking and harassment. Our Diane K. has been involved with each case and compiles her observations for a report from us to follow.
In the meantime, it seems the stalking fever is catching on with governments around the world. The fact is our privacy and personal information can be used as the fastest route to inflict a government's plan, whatever that might be, and it's a race to monitor, collect, and control as much as they can.
✓ The world is already in a state where one-quarter of the total population has restricted or no legal access to VPNs. https://vpnpro.com/guides-and-tutorials/are-vpns-legal-in-my-country
Sadly, events in April took us a few more steps down the road of this unnerving trend.
- On April 1st, a new Russian law that requires devices to have Russian software installed was made effective. President Putin says it's to help his country compete against other software makers. As conspicuous as the date of implementation is, this is not a joke.
- On April 13th, the Department of Justice Tuesday granted the FBI powers to remotely access computers to remove viruses from vulnerable versions of Microsoft Exchange Server software.
- On April 23rd, China created a mandate requiring streaming platforms to collect personal data and swiftly handle "bad information."
- On April 27th, the Biden administration announced it would seek $80 billion to empower the IRS with extraordinary access and tools to monitor the financial activities of high earners.
- On April 29th, the IRS announced it is looking for help cracking crypto-wallets. As Nicholas Weaver, a senior researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at UC Berkeley said;
"It seems like overkill. A choice of 'Either give us the password or rot in jail for contempt' might be sufficient."
✓ Everyone wants tax cheats to get caught and held accountable for their crimes. And we want our enforcement officials to be as equipped as they need to be to get the job done - but without invading our privacy and civil liberties.
The $80 billion IRS plan includes:
- A multi-year commitment from Congress so the IRS can hire enforcement staff to increase audits with less risk of lawmakers stopping such an initiative midway through.
- The change to the information-reporting rules would give the IRS much more information about business income as it decides whom to audit.
- The plan creates an enormous flow of information that the IRS would have to learn how to manage, use, and secure.
- Democrats, who have been building political support for a significant IRS expansion, welcomed the proposal.
- Congress will have to weigh the potential burdens and privacy concerns against the revenue gains as it considers the plan.
It's hard to feel confident the money and powers of an emboldened IRS won't weaponize the agency in some shape or form? In this political climate, the stakes are high that it will, and it won't be the first time. In 2017 the DOJ required an apology from the IRS because:
"... it is now clear that during the last Administration, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria.
"The IRS’s use of these criteria as a basis for heightened scrutiny was wrong and should never have occurred.
"It is improper for the IRS to single out groups for different treatment based on their names or ideological positions."
Above from the DOJ settlement with the IRS, October 26th, 2017.
"The power to tax includes the power to destroy ... this is not to be denied."
Chief Justice John Marshall commenting on the DOJ settlement.
✓ The notion of a cyber-empowered Internal Revenue Stalker balancing privacy and revenue to pay the federal government's out-of-control spending is frightening.
Start to protect privacy with a no-obligation cyber risk assessment.