IRS to drop facial recognition verification
Andrea Peterson February 7, 2022

IRS to drop facial recognition verification

IRS to drop facial recognition verification

The IRS announced Monday that the agency “will transition away” from a system that uses third-party facial recognition vendors to verify the identity of people wanting to use its online services.

The move comes following an outcry from privacy advocates and lawmakers about reporting related to vendor ID.me’s face-matching system.  

In a press statement posted to the IRS website, the agency said the “transition will occur over the coming weeks” and it is working to “develop and bring online an additional authentication process” that doesn’t involve scanning faces.

Researchers and civil liberties advocates have long warned that the spread of facial recognition technologies comes with potential and these types of services have already been connected to false imprisonments due to misidentification.
ID.me backtracked on claims about the type of image-matching techniques used to power its system and acknowledged it relies on Amazon’s Rekognition tool following inquiries from CyberScoop earlier this year. The vendor responded to a media inquiry from The Record about by saying that it refers questions to the IRS regarding the issue.

Andrea (they/them) is senior policy correspondent at The Record and a longtime cybersecurity journalist who cut their teeth covering technology policy ThinkProgress (RIP), then The Washington Post from 2013 through 2016, before doing deep dive public records investigations at the Project on Government Oversight and American Oversight. Their work has also been published at Slate, Politico, The Daily Beast, Ars Technica, Protocol, and other outlets. Peterson also produces independent creative projects under their Plain Great Productions brand and can generally be found online as kansasalps.