Google has effectively used recent technological advancements to revolutionize how people communicate and access information. As the ubiquitous company continues to expand its horizons, it is proving to be an invaluable source on countless fronts.
Of course, with such an impossibly large stockpile of information, Google’s features are especially attractive to an ever more intrusive American government. According to a recent Daily Caller report, uncovered documents show the Internal Revenue Service used Google Maps to amass information about citizens as far back as 2011.
One letter in particular, released three days before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, details one such instance. Though portions of the document were redacted, significant portions of the narrative were left intact.
The IRS, according to the letter, used the popular map feature to deny the tax-exempt status of a homeowner’s association. Agents identified the property and determined a two-mile road in the neighborhood did not meet applicable requirements.
Such investigations are likely just the tip of the iceberg, however, considering the IRS’ own employee manual encourages agents to use search engines such as Google for “background information relevant to the taxpayer….”
In the latest iteration of the agency’s guide, Google Maps is listed specifically as a resource through which agents may surreptitiously spy on taxpayers. Furthermore, the Department of Treasury spent nearly $10,000 last year on a contractor hired to perform “Google Maps License and Maintenance.”
By using the advanced version of Google’s program, the IRS has much more accessibility to data than the average user. Experts watching a growing trend of governments spying on citizens through Google Maps predicted such practices would soon take place in the U.S.
As with numerous dystopian predictions made during the Obama administration, this warning soon proved to be justified.
While virtually any modern profession relies heavily on technology, many are rightfully wary of the scandal-plagued IRS snooping on citizens. When reports surfaced that agents improperly subjected conservatives to much harsher scrutiny than the general population, Americans could no longer rely on the IRS to impartially collect taxes.
Considering the glaring lack of accountability surrounding this ongoing scandal, many conservatives continue to feel unfairly targeted by the federal government. The realization that agents might be watching their property right now from a computer in Washington, D.C., will only further justify taxpayer cynicism.
–B. Christopher Agee
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