• United States
Contributing Writer

What you think of the IRS and instant messaging

May 01, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMessaging AppsSecurity

* Your thoughts on online tax filing with private firms and instant messaging safety

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed the mailbag responses getting more insistent. I don’t know if it’s the result of the bad economy or the tensions in the Middle East or whatever, but everyone seems much more defiant about whatever they are commenting on.

One such example came on the heels of my discussion about the IRS using private companies to streamline the tax return system. Readers were up in arms over this and lashed out at the IRS.

“I think free filing should be available online,” a reader says. “However, I don’t feel private companies should be able to collect information on me or subject me to more ridiculous ads in the course of attempting to file something I am required to by the federal government.”

Another reader is more adamant. “I am sick of the collection of my personal information so people can target me as a sales prospect,” he says. “I did not use my free online filing with [my tax preparation software] because the privacy policy said they could keep the information and use it with their subsidiaries (whoever they might be).”

He adds: “My tax information is between me and the IRS. I will not file online until it is a private transaction which is not sampled by other businesses.”

One reader says the savings the IRS claims it is experiencing with this process isn’t worth the loss of privacy. “While it probably would be a money-saving activity to remove the most inefficient bureaucracy that exists – the Federal government – from the equation, there are times when our privacy is more important,” he says. “Now we must trust some company that is being forced on us – a foolish notion.”

Meanwhile, readers who responded to my column on the rise in enterprise use of instant messaging were also up in arms – this time over the issue of security.

One IT executive concedes that he will roll out instant messaging in the enterprise, but has serious concerns. “I agree with you that instant messaging will become an enterprise service soon, however it will take many things to happen [that] encrypt the data and keep the transmission within the company LAN.”

He adds, “we can’t secure [IM]… Trojans are increasingly transmitting using IM ports…. We are educating users of the dangers and caveats and will be working to implement proxy services at the Internet border in an effort to limit and/or scan IM data.”

Another network pro says instant messaging is a great tool. “We use it all the time on the help desk to instant message other sites and help solve [problems] on the first call,” she says.

Instant messaging does have its challenges, but if users are any indication of its resolve, the application is here to stay. Keep your messages coming to