Facial Recognition Is No Longer Coming

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The IRS announced this afternoon that it will move way from facial recognition to authenticate people creating online IRS accounts, and that it will develop an additional authentication process that does not rely on facial recognition.

The IRS announcement was followed by a news release from the Office of Senator Wyden, reproduced below.

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MEMORANDUM

To: Reporters and Editors 
From: Keith Chu, Office of Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore. 
Date: February 7, 2022 
Re: IRS Plans to Transition Away from ID.me Facial Recognition 

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today released the following statement after the Treasury Department informed his office it is in the process of transitioning away from using the private facial recognition service ID.me to verify IRS.gov accounts: 

“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” Wyden said.“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.”  

Wyden asked the IRS to end its use of ID.me in a letter this morning. In recent weeks privacy and civil rights advocates have raised concerns about the IRS decision to use facial recognition software by private vendor ID.me to verify taxpayers’ accounts and access tax information online. The IRS does not require use of the system to e-file tax returns. However, users have reported hours-long waits to complete the verification process.

About Christine Speidel

Christine Speidel is Associate Professor and Director of the Federal Tax Clinic at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Prior to her appointment at Villanova she practiced law at Vermont Legal Aid, Inc. At Vermont Legal Aid Christine directed the Vermont Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic and was a staff attorney for Vermont Legal Aid's Office of the Health Care Advocate.

Comments

  1. Dave Freeland says

    I have mixed feelings about the selfie comments. Identity theft is out there and causes major issues when it affects individual tax returns. Advising taxpayers to set up their own personal IRS accounts will help curb that along with IP Pins. In just completing the ID.me registration last Thursday, I submitted a drivers license front and back and then in the app it really wasn’t a selfie as much as a facial scan. As I understand it, the purpose of the scan is verify the person on the drivers license is the same person submitting the information by use of the facial scan. Unfortunately in these times of “I want it now”, there are going to be some hiccups along the way, but for the vast majority this seemed like a workable feature to try and streamline the different federal systems.

    While I appreciate the legislative branch of our government acting so quickly to the public’s concerns over this matter, it seems to me there are other pressing matters both the legislative and executive branches need to be working on with the same quick actions.

    • worked flawlessly and quickly for me. The only people I have seen have problems are those that can’t follow directions or have no patience. some of the people I scrutinize the most carefully when doing their return. We need something to eliminate the long wait times on phone verification where it is impossible to get through to speak to someone or the local offices are not yet taking appointments.

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