Italy Posts All Taxpayer Income on the Web
In a move it said was a "simple matter of transparency and democracy," the Italian Revenue Agency on Wednesday posted without warning the details of the total revenue, income tax paid and other personal information of Italian citizens in 2005, including those of politicians, soccer players and TV personalities. The move was to an attempt to expose tax evasion by Premier Romano Prodi's outgoing government. According to an Italian government report from 2007, the amount of unpaid tax in the country is equivalent to 7% of gross domestic product.
Within hours, Italy's Privacy Authority ordered the tax agency to suspend the posting, saying it presented "clear and serious problems" under the country's privacy rules. However, before the information was removed from the web, much of the information had already been captured and circulated via peer-to-peer file sharing websites.
The Italian tax payers' association is advising people to download forms from its website to help them claim 500 euros in damages each from the tax authority.
Think of the firestorm if something like that happened in the US.