Feb 9, 2022
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IRS Halts Use of Facial Recognition Technology

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With tax season upon us, the United States government is reviewing its filing process and making some big changes.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced it will be transitioning away from using a third-party service for facial recognition to verify new online accounts, the agency said in a recent statement.
This transition will occur soon, over the next couple weeks, with the goal of preventing larger disruptions to citizens filing their taxes. The IRS says that during this transition, it will work to quickly develop a different authentication process that does not involve facial recognition.
The IRS also says that this will not interfere with taxpayers’ abilities to file or pay their taxes, noting that everyone should continue to file their taxes as they normally would.
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig spoke about the change:
“The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised. Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition,” Rettig said.
In November 2021, the IRS announced that everyone who wanted to pay their taxes or access tax records through its online portal would have to do so by registering through identity verification company ID.me. 
In January, cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs tried to use the system and had concerns over the company’s verification times and customer service, according to CyberScoop.
Concerns over ID.me grew even greater after it admitted to lying about not using a stronger form of facial recognition technology, which research shows introduces more risks of inaccuracy and racial bias.
Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR, was one of over a dozen politicians who wrote to the IRS and asked it to reconsider its use of facial recognition technology. Wyden said:
“The Treasury Department has made the smart decision to direct the IRS to transition away from using the controversial ID.me verification service, as I requested earlier today. I understand the transition process may take time, but I appreciate that the administration recognizes that privacy and security are not mutually exclusive and no one should be forced to submit to facial recognition to access critical government services.”
The IRS has not said how many people had registered through the ID.me system.


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