Sen. Thune sponsors bill to prevent IRS from accessing taxpayer info on phones or PCs

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) introduced legislation that would prohibit Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees, volunteers, and contractors from accessing taxpayer information on their personal computers or phones through the IRS’s bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program.

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The Ensuring No Devices Bear Your Own Data (END BYOD) Act was cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

“I have been sounding the alarm on the IRS’s troubling history of mishandling taxpayer information, and the bring-your-own-device program is getting added to that roster,” Thune said. “The American people should be able to trust that their personal information is safe with the IRS – not compromised. I’m proud to introduce the END BYOD Act, which would help ensure the security and privacy of taxpayers’ data.”

Thune is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Taxation and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Oversight.

“Senator Thune’s END BYOD Act would prohibit IRS employees from using any personal device, such as laptops and cellphones, for work purposes,” Demian Brady, vice president of research at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, said. “Instead, they would only be able to access taxpayer information through official IRS devices. This reform comes in the aftermath of the recent conviction of an IRS contractor who illicitly obtained and disclosed confidential financial records of thousands of taxpayers, resulting in a five-year jail sentence. Senator Thune’s END BYOD Act would help strengthen the security and privacy of taxpayers’ data.”

Earlier this year, Thune was among a group of lawmakers that sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel concerning a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that found devices used by certain IRS employees can access TikTok, including personal devices used to participate in the BYOD program.

In the letter, Thune noted that the IRS is failing to comply with the federally mandated No TikTok on Government Devices Act, which bans the use of TikTok on any federal device due to security risks that the Chinese-owned social media application presents.