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posted by hubie on Wednesday November 23, @07:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the we-take-our-customer's-privacy-very-seriously dept.

Financial data was sent to Meta by TaxAct, H&R Block, and TaxSlayer :

Here to add another layer of dread ahead of the upcoming tax season, The Markup reported that some of the biggest online e-filing services—unbeknownst to millions of users—have been sharing sensitive user financial information with Meta. Some services linked user names and email addresses with detailed information like income, refund amounts, filing status, and even the amount of dependents' college scholarships.

These services include H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer, which transmit data via a tool that Meta provides for businesses called the Meta Pixel. The Markup published the data sent to Meta by these companies, which it confirmed was sometimes generated and shared "regardless of whether the person using the tax filing service has an account on Facebook" or other Meta service.

Meta provides the Meta Pixel as a code that businesses can customize and embed on their websites to gather information to help businesses improve targeted marketing campaigns on Meta platforms. In return for this service, Meta gets to use the shared data to drive its own algorithms in its mission to know just about everything that can be known about its own users.

The Markup asked the Internal Revenue Service to verify whether tax preparers sharing sensitive financial information with Meta violated IRS regulations, but the IRS declined to comment.

H&R Block spokesperson Angela Davied told The Markup that the company would be reviewing the information revealed by The Markup. She told Ars that the company has since decided to change how it uses the Meta Pixel.

"At H&R Block, we take protecting our clients' privacy very seriously, and we are taking steps to mitigate the sharing of client information via pixels," Davied told Ars.

A TaxSlayer spokesperson, Molly Richardson, told The Markup that TaxSlayer, like H&R Block, was evaluating its use of the pixel. "Our customers' privacy is of utmost importance, and we take concerns about our customers' information very seriously," Richardson said, confirming that the pixel would be removed until TaxSlayer finished its review.

[...] According to Meta, it prohibits businesses from sharing "information about an individual's financial account or status." This rule didn't stop two businesses from sharing income information, The Markup reported.

[...] While The Markup's report focused on the Meta Pixel, their investigation also revealed that TaxAct was sharing financial information with Google through its use of Google Analytics. In those cases, names weren't shared, but information like income and refund amounts were.

Google spokesperson Jackie Berté told The Markup that Google Analytics data "is obfuscated, meaning it is not tied back to an individual and our policies prohibit customers from sending us data that could be used to identify a user." Berté said that this reflects Google's "strict policies against advertising to people based on sensitive information."

When The Markup reviewed data as recently as this Monday, reporters confirmed that TaxAct "continued to send financial information to Google Analytics."

Well, at least my personal health information is protected from Meta Pixel, right?

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @12:53AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @12:53AM (#1281366)

    Lack of Trust is the main reason that even to this day I still fire up my old DOS VisiCalc and privately do my calculations then manually transcribe via pen and ink to downloaded paper blank PDF forms.

    I know soon I won't even be allowed to download forms and I will be required by law to involve untrusted (by me) parties in order to comply with tax obligations.

    My only recourse seems to be to involve myself with as little involvement in economic activity as possible.

    I have found most employment to be of negative value if a business is involved. By the time all the hands have been paid to allow me to do anything, I have little, if any, left.

    Do not try to earn anything. Do not buy stuff. Trade for things. Fix stuff for others who find themselves in the same boat.

    Learn alternate methods for acquiring necessities. Working for it isn't working anymore. Trying to earn a buck has become too much like trying to work in a mosquito infested swamp. They all depend on supplies of someone else's blood for their sustenance, and I am tired of all their organized efforts to take that which I have legally earned from me by passing tax law I have no say in.

    Go off grid. All I really need is a friendly farmer who tolerates my presence on his land and will feed me in exchange for my services in fixing his stuff.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mhajicek on Thursday November 24, @07:00AM

    by mhajicek (51) on Thursday November 24, @07:00AM (#1281415)

    Doesn't work if you want to own a house or land. At a minimum, property taxes must be paid in US Dollars.

    The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek