IRS Walks Back Insane Facial Recognition Use After Harsh Backlash

In a statement released Monday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stated that it will be allowing all of its taxpayers the option to forgo the use of its new facial recognition technology requirements in the wake of extreme backlash from the American public.

These new decisions from the IRS were sent out on its website early Monday morning as a response to the ongoing privacy and security concerns being presented as taxpayers get ready for their tax returns for 2021.

“The IRS announced today that a new option in the agency’s authentication system is now available for taxpayers to sign up for IRS online accounts without the use of any biometric data, including facial recognition. This is consistent with the IRS’s commitment earlier this month to transition away from the requirement for taxpayers creating an IRS online account to provide a selfie to a third-party service to help authenticate their identity,” stated the IRS in a release.

“Taxpayers will have the option of verifying their identity during a live, virtual interview with agents; no biometric data – including facial recognition – will be required if taxpayers choose to authenticate their identity through a virtual interview,” read the statement.

The original choice was noted as a short-term option as the IRS takes steps to get away from ID.me as its main verification tool. The release highlighted the fact that the IRS is currently working to officially roll out Login.Gov as its main verification tool for the future.

“Taxpayers will still have the option to verify their identity automatically through the use of biometric verification through ID.me’s self-assistance tool if they choose. For taxpayers who select this option, new requirements are in place to ensure images provided by taxpayers are deleted for the account being created. Any existing biometric data from taxpayers who previously created an IRS Online Account that has already been collected will also be permanently deleted over the course of the next few weeks,” read the statement.

The new Login.Gov system is slated to be fully operational by the time that the American public would be filing their 2022 taxes.

“While this short-term solution is in place for this year’s filing season, the IRS will work closely with partners across government to roll out Login.Gov as an authentication tool. The General Services Administration is currently working with the IRS to achieve the security standards and scale required of Login.Gov, with the goal of moving toward introducing this option after the 2022 filing deadline,” according to the release.

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