The ongoing saga of ID.me and the IRS took another twist with the introduction of a new bill that would bar the tax agency from using any form of facial recognition. The bipartisan bill was put forward by US Senators Roy Blunt and Jeff Merkley, a Republican and a Democrat representing Missouri and Oregon, respectively.
The aptly named No Facial Recognition at the IRS Act is a direct response to the IRS’s recent attempt to make biometric identity verification with ID.me mandatory for those accessing IRS services online. That decision proved to be extremely unpopular with lawmakers and the general public, prompting the IRS to backtrack and continue accepting non-biometric verification options. ID.me has also expanded its suite of non-biometric identity services to make sure that people have alternatives to facial recognition.
However, those efforts are not enough to appease Merkley and Blunt. The new bill would prevent the IRS from using any form of biometric recognition technology, and from contracting with a third party for the same purpose. If passed, the IRS and its partners would have 60 days to delete any biometric data previously captured through the program.
ID.me has been working with the IRS since 2017 largely without incident, and it’s unclear why the IRS’s use of biometric data is so uniquely concerning given the widespread collection and use of biometric data at other government agencies. Having said that, Merkley and Blunt have been consistent opponents of facial recognition, and recently penned a letter to inform American citizens of their right to opt out of Customs and Border Protection’s facial recognition screening at the country’s borders. Merkley has also teamed up with Bernie Sanders to push a Biometric Information Privacy Act at the federal level.
At the moment, the IRS is still partnered with ID.me, and taxpayers are able to opt into the biometric identification system. Those who take the non-biometric option will have their identity verified during a video chat with a human agent.
Source: News Talk KZRG
March 7, 2022 – by Eric Weiss