Tax Guru – Ker$tetter Letter

Helping real people win the tax game.

Who do you trust?

Posted by taxguru on April 3, 2014

This recent poll about who people trust the most with their personal info ignores a few very key issues. 

SHOCK POLL: Americans Trust IRS, NSA More than Facebook

It’s easy to say the people polled are idiots for trusting the IRS and NSA more than FaceBook with their personal data.  That would be too much of a knee-jerk reaction; because there actually are plenty of people in the private sector who are scammers and should never be trusted.  Ponzi master Bernie Madoff and stock swindler Jordan Belfort from the recent movie The Wolf of Wall Street, come to mind.  I have never trusted MySpace or FaceBook because I have always suspected ulterior motives for their use of private user data; so I choose not to use most social media sites and services.

That is the big difference here.  With social media sites and services, users voluntarily establish a relationship and voluntarily provide their personal data. With government agencies, such as IRS and NSA, our relationships with them are anything but voluntary.  We are forced to provide more and more of our personal info to them every day.  Some of it we know they are taking, while other data is taken by surreptitious methods (aka Spying). 

The other difference is what the different entities are able to do to people. Scammers like Madoff and Belfort were able to steal money from gullible greedy investors who should have had enough common sense to stay away; but instead voluntarily gave the crooks their money.  FaceBook and other social media sites can sell users data to other companies to solicit them for voluntary purchases.  None of these “voluntary” entities has the power to seize its users’ assets or to throw them into prison. 

That’s what the governmental agencies can and will do if they want to.

So, the question shouldn’t be who is more trustworthy with our personal data, but who can do the most devastating damage to us with it?

 

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