WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service said Monday that it will allow taxpayers to opt out of using facial recognition technology to gain access to their online accounts and will switch to an identity verification system. looks completely different next year as the agency tries to blunt the backlash over its use of biometric data.
The decision came after the IRS said this month that it will “switch away” from using a third-party service, ID.me, to help authenticate people who create online accounts using facial recognition to verify their identity.
The IRS has adopted the technology as a way to enhance the security of taxpayers’ information and avoid data leaks, which has been a growing concern for lawmakers. But activist groups and lawmakers on both sides expressed warnings, saying using “selfie” videos to verify accounts is an invasion of privacy.
IRS, signed a two-year, $86 million contract with ID.me, will continue to work with the company. Taxpayers can still choose to have an image of their face scanned to gain access to their accounts, but those who opt out of facial recognition technology can verify their identity in an interview. face-to-face, virtual consultation with a company representative.
“No biometric data is needed – including facial recognition – if taxpayers choose to authenticate their identity through a virtual interview,” the IRS said in a statement.
Individual photos taken to create new accounts this tax season will be removed from ID.me’s servers in the coming weeks. The IRS says any new selfies taken this year will not be stored on the servers.
The uproar over the agency’s use of facial recognition is the latest challenge for the IRS, the company behind the processing of more than 20 million tax returns in 2020, which is facing staffing shortages and a lack of experience. fee. The pandemic has made tax season more complicated than usual as the IRS has to process additional information related to stimulus checks directly to households, as well as prepayments of the child tax credit. em.
Republican lawmakers, who for years have criticized the agency and its ability to keep data secret, have called facial recognition technology “intrusive.” Democrats agreed, arguing that taxpayers shouldn’t have to sacrifice privacy for data security.
Proponents of facial recognition technology have noted that it is widely used in places like airports. They argue that it is safer than providing websites with other identifying information, such as Social Security cards and other personal documents.
The IRS describes the move to avoid facial recognition as a short-term solution. It said it was planning to use Login.gov, which millions of Americans already use to authorize their identities to access several federal websites. The IRS is working with the General Services Administration to ensure that Login.gov meets the security requirements for use next year’s tax season.
A spokesman for the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS and contracts with ID.me, could not comment on the future of the contract with the company.
The fate of the company’s other government contracts is unclear. The Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and many state agencies also use ID.me to verify account users.
This month, ID.me says it will roll out new options allows government agencies to verify identities without facial recognition, and it will allow people to delete their photos after March 1.
“We’ve been listening to feedback on facial recognition and are making this important change,” said Blake Hall, chief executive officer of ID.me.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/us/politics/irs-facial-recognition.html IRS will let taxpayers waive facial recognition in response context