Facial recognition not required as tax ID – yet. But the tech spreads. | #socialmedia


Facial recognition identification verification technology can potentially protect government resources and personal information.

But some cities have banned the technology, the IRS dropped a requirement to use it to access individual tax accounts, and a congressional committee is investigating the IRS facial recognition contractor over concerns about privacy, security, and the technology’s potential to discriminate.

Why We Wrote This

The IRS was pressured to drop its plan to use facial recognition for tax identification this year. Experts say the technology is the future of security. But first, society must reconcile the promise and peril – protection vs. privacy – of it.

Use of the facial recognition technology is now optional for taxpayers.   

A handful of agencies use facial recognition to control building access. Agencies like the Department of Homeland Security use the technology for domestic law enforcement, including for leads in criminal investigations, and border security. Beyond the IRS, some federal agencies are moving ahead with facial recognition technology and 10 plan to expand its use by 2023.  

“Ten years from now, we’ll look back on this problem and say, ‘Well, that was the beginning when people were nervous,’” says John Koskinen, a former IRS commissioner and current board member at the National Academy of Public Administration. “The purpose of all this is to protect [people] and protect their data.” 

Washington

The Internal Revenue Service dropped a requirement for taxpayers to use facial recognition identification verification when it met bipartisan opposition in Congress earlier this year. And on April 14, a congressional committee opened an investigation into a facial recognition identity verification company over concerns about privacy, security, and the technology’s potential to discriminate.

Federal agencies have expanded, or have had plans to expand, use of the technology by 2023.  

What problem is facial recognition trying to solve?

Why We Wrote This

The IRS was pressured to drop its plan to use facial recognition for tax identification this year. Experts say the technology is the future of security. But first, society must reconcile the promise and peril – protection vs. privacy – of it.

The IRS, which will still offer biometric recognition as a taxpayer option, hopes to reduce fraud.

“A significant challenge over time for the IRS has been the problem of stolen identities and then refund fraud,” says John Koskinen, former IRS commissioner. When he began as head of the IRS in 2013, he says, over $5 billion a year went to criminals.

Last year, the IRS contracted with the private digital identity verification company ID.me to use facial recognition screening for taxpayers who wished to access their historical tax documents online. The company also is used by the federal government for unemployment assistance. Comparing a user-uploaded “video selfie” to government records like a driver’s license, the company’s software is intended to automate identity verification and ferret out fraud.



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