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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today said Americans who are worried about the government collecting minimal phone call data to protect our national security should be more worried about the recent data breach at the IRS in which vast amounts of personal data of more than 100,000 taxpayers was stolen.

Isakson highlighted the contrast on a day when the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the recent IRS data breach and the full Senate was voting on reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, which authorizes an intelligence collection program by the National Security Agency (NSA) that was developed to close known intelligence gaps identified in the 9/11 Commission Report.

“I just want to put things in perspective …that the information [collected by the IRS] is a lot more private, a lot more personally identifying, and a lot more dangerous in the hands of the wrong person to the average American citizen than what is collected by the NSA for the purpose of looking out for our national security.”

Isakson pointed to the IRS-controlled data as a much more alarming source of personal information controlled by the government with far fewer protection mechanisms in place, resulting each year in hundreds of thousands cases of tax fraud and data and security breaches.

“For the last six days, the United States Senate has been debating the merit of whether the NSA should have access to two phone numbers, the date of a call, and duration of the call without any personally identifying information whatsoever,” said Isakson.

“We’re getting ready to take that authority away from [the NSA], yet here we have the commissioner of the IRS talking about 104,000 Americans that had their identity stolen,” Isakson continued. “And yet when I file my tax return on April 15th each year, [the IRS] knows how much money I make, how much my wife makes, what church I go to, who I give the money to, whether or not I had a casualty loss, where I buy stocks, where I buy bonds and how much I owe on my house.”

View Isakson’s full remarks at today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing online here.

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