Treasury Department concedes to Cause of Action’s request to stop collecting online users’ location data

WASHINGTON – Cause of Action, a nonpartisan government accountability organization, last Thursday submitted a letter to the Treasury Department requesting it cease the unauthorized collection of users’ location data online and investigate the program. By Monday morning, the Treasury website in question no longer prompted users to allow it access to their location, marking rapid progress towards government reform, while supporting our claim the practice was indeed unauthorized.

While performing its oversight work recently, Cause of Action utilized a Bureau of the Fiscal Service (“BFS”) website under the control of the United States Department of the Treasury to conduct research. We were surprised to find that when we attempted to access the Treasury Financial Manual located at, the website prompted us to allow it access to the our current location.  We were presented with a message stating the website “wants to track [the user’s] physical location,” and required us to choose to allow the Treasury Department to access our location or to not allow.

“When a government agency uses taxpayer dollars to collect private information about the people they serve, and does so without any apparent authority, we must take every action available to reign in this abuse of executive power,” Cause of Action Executive Director Dan Epstein said. “While we commend the agency for quietly stopping this practice, our work continues to find out all the details about the agency’s unwarranted data collection.”

Cause of Action believes that the location access request by Bureau of the Fiscal Service constituted an unwarranted invasion of privacy, could discourage individuals from accessing government information, and was unlawful under applicable statutes, regulations, guidance, and policy. We are concerned that BFS was collecting data on the location of website users without any proper authority.

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