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Xenon is software to perform covert Internet searches and surveillance, presently in use by taxing authorities in at least six nations[1][2][3] to investigate the possibilities of tax evasion by various revenue producing web sites (online shops, gambling sites, or pornography sites) and clients selling goods on on-line auction sites.[4]:59[5]:149[6]:384[3][7][8][9][10] The software uses time-controlled web spiders to avoid detection, and likely countermeasures, by the webmasters of the targeted site.[1] Its use may be legal; but citizen's right to privacy and other civil liberties are implicated.


Use of Xenon was begun in the Netherlands in 2004, by the Dutch tax authority Belastingdienst. The Amsterdam-based data mining firm Sentient Machine Research, together with the tax authorities of Austria, Canada, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, has since upgraded the system.[1] Sweden's tax authority began using Xenon in 2007.[3]

Civil libertiesEdit

Swedish privacy advocate and IT expert Par Strom, while stating in 2007 that the anticipated use of Xenon by the Swedish tax authority Skatteverket would be legal, has also stated that such use would pose dangers to citizen privacy rights—as did the current use at the time of similar spidering software developed internally by the Swedish government.[1] Canadian Internet law expert Michael Geist has expressed similar privacy concerns.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Norton, Quinn (January 25, 2007). "Tax takers send in the spiders". Business. Wired. Archived from the original on 2016-12-22. Retrieved 2017-10-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  2. ^ a b Hamilton, Tyler (January 29, 2007). "'Spider' crawls Web for cheaters". Canada. Toronto Star. Retrieved 2017-10-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ a b c Calistri, Amy (February 6, 2008). "Sweden's tax spider nets poker players". News. PokerNews. Archived from the original on 2015-09-22. Retrieved 2017-10-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  4. ^ Schermer, Bart Willem (2007). Software agents, surveillance, and the right to privacy: a legislative framework for agent-enabled surveillance (PDF) (PhD dissertation, Leiden University, May 9, 2007). SIKS Dissertation Series No. 2007-05. Leiden University Press. ISBN 978-90-8728-021-5 – via Leiden University.
  5. ^ Liu, Jianwei (September 13, 2010). Breaking the ice between government and business: from IT-enabled control procedure redesign to trusted relationship building (PhD dissertation). Tinbergen Institute Research Series No. 478. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. OCLC 694830810 – via Thela Thesis, Tinbergen Institute, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
  6. ^ Liu, Jianwei; Tan, Yao-Hua; Hulstijn, Joris (2009). "IT enabled risk management for taxation and customs: the case of AEO assessment in the Netherlands". In Wimmer, Maria A.; Scholl, Hans J.; Janssen, Marijn; Traunmüller, Roland (eds.). Electronic government. 8th International Conference on Electronic Government, EGOV 2009, Linz, Austria, August 31 - September 3, 2009: Proceedings. Lecture Notes in Computer Science No. 5693. Berlin: Springer. pp. 376–397. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-03516-6_32. ISBN 978-3-642-03515-9.
  7. ^ Regitko, John (February 9, 2007). "New way for taxman to grab your cash" (PDF). C.N.A. E-Bulletin. Toronto: Royal Canadian Numismatic Association. 3 (7): 5–6. Archived from the original on 2017-10-15. Retrieved 2017-10-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ "Ebay sellers receive tax warning". Business. BBC News. February 12, 2007. Archived from the original on 2015-08-06. Retrieved 2017-10-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ "Xenon web crawling initiative: privacy impact assessment (PIA) summary". Ottawa: Government of Canada. April 11, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-09-25. Retrieved 2017-10-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  10. ^ Weigel, David (May 2007). "I, tax robot". Internet tax traps. Reason. Archived from the original on 2016-01-18. Retrieved 2017-10-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)