Friday, January 07, 2022

Can the IRS Be Trusted With Your Data?,

 Bloomberg Opinion:  Can the IRS Be Trusted With Your Data?, by Stephen L. Carter (Yale):

IRS Logo 2Like many Americans, I tend to feel generous this time of year — not only because it’s the season for giving, but also for the tax implications. This year, however, my usual concerns about how many deductions I can claim on next year’s return have given way to worries about privacy.

In fiscal 2021, the Internal Revenue Service processed 269 million tax forms, each one rich with information that scammers and thieves would love to have. A scathing new report from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration calls into question the ability of the IRS to protect this mass of data. ...

Remember the leak of confidential taxpayer information to ProPublica earlier this year?  Whatever one’s politics, it’s easy to see it as a reason to worry, given that the IRS evidently either (1) has no way to track uh down who handled the data in question, or (2) allows access to private data to so many people that it’s impossible to tell who downloaded it. (And if it was an outside hack, well, that’s more worrisome still.) [See also Wall Street Journal editorial, The Internal Revenue Leak Service]

China harvests masses of data on Western targets, documents show

Washington Post: “China is turning a major part of its internal Internet-data surveillance network outward, mining Western social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to equip its government agencies, military and police with information on foreign targets, according to a Washington Post review of hundreds of Chinese bidding documents, contracts and company filings. China maintains a countrywide network of government data surveillance services — called public opinion analysis software — that were developed over the past decade and are used domestically to warn officials of politically sensitive information online. The software primarily targets China’s domestic Internet users and media, but a Post review of bidding documents and contracts for over 300 Chinese government projects since the beginning of 2020 include orders for software designed to collect data on foreign targets from sources such as Twitter, Facebook and other Western social media…”



  1. The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy, by Bongrae Seok.
  2. Kinds and Origins of Evil, by Andrew Chignell.
  3. Phylogenetic Inference, by Matt Haber and Joel Velasco.
  4. Moral Disagreement, by Folke Tersman.
  5. God and Other Ultimates, by Jeanine Diller.


  1. Descartes’ Ethics, by Donald Rutherford.
  2. Deflationism About Truth, by Bradley Armour-Garb, Daniel Stoljar, and James Woodbridge.
  3. Albert Camus, by Ronald Aronson.
  4. Legal Punishment, by Zachary Hoskins and Antony Duff.
  5. The Axiom of Choice, by John L. Bell.
  6. Perceptual Experience and Perceptual Justification, by Nicholas Silins.
  7. Cloning, by Katrien Devolder.
  8. Petitionary Prayer, by Scott A. Davison.
  9. Philippa Foot, by John Hacker-Wright.
  10. Paul Grice, by Richard E. Grandy and Richard Warner.
  11. Jeremy Bentham, by James E. Crimmins.
  12. Mental Imagery, by Bence Nanay.
  13. Metaphysical Grounding, by Ricki Bliss and Kelly Trogdon.
  14. Panentheism, by John Culp.
  15. The Donation and Sale of Human Eggs and Sperm, by Reuven Brandt, Stephen Wilkinson, and Nicola Williams.


  1. African Philosophical Perspectives on the Meaning of Life, by Aribiah David Attoe.
  2. Propositional Attitudes, by David Lindeman.


1000-Word Philosophy      

  1. George Orwell’s Philosophical Views by Mark Satta.

Project Vox     

  1. Nísia Floresta, by Yasmin Pontes.

Recent Philosophy Book Reviews in Non-Academic Media  

  1. Free: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi is reviewed by Ed O’Loughlin at The Irish Times
  2. Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value by Dominic McIver Lope is reviewed by Patrick Fessenbecker at Public Books.

Compiled by Michael Glawson

BONUS: That cheeky Aristotle

Mathematicians Outwit Hidden Number Conspiracy Quanta

NASA’s Retiring Top Scientist Says We Can Terraform Mars and Maybe Venus, Too NYT. Oh?

Things are getting tense for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, literally See NASA’s Where is Webb? for updates.