Earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it would no longer require taxpayers to use a private facial-recognition system in order to access their online account data.
There are those who argue that the now-foiled effort is just the latest step in a disturbing federal agency expansion.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said, “Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured” in a statement announcing the program’s cancellation.
According to the public’s reaction, only a small percentage of Americans felt comfortable submitting to a face scan by the federal government.
To pay or check their balance on IRS.gov, Emory University Professor Usha Rackliffe says that taxpayers would be required to upload a video of themselves and their government-issued photo ID.
However, that would have to be completed by the summer of 2022 in order to access older tax returns and information on the federal Child Tax Credit. Rackliffe said that it would not affect the process of submitting a tax return.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the digital advocacy group Fight for the Future have serious concerns about the IRS’s use of the technology.
According to Caitlin Seeley George of Fight for the Future, “the IRS’s plan to use facial recognition on people who are just trying to access their tax information online was a profound threat to everyone’s security and civil liberties.”
As a result of the outcry and pressure from lawmakers and experts, the agency has finally bowed to public pressure.
Even some of Vice President Joe Biden’s closest allies backed out of the IRS initiative. senator from Oregon Ron Wyden wrote to Rettig: “The IRS should not require facial recognition for any of the other important services it provides taxpayers.”
“The IRS does not use facial recognition for tax filing or to receive a refund,” wrote Wyden in his letter.
In an interesting twist, Rackliffe’s fellow Georgian, former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, is one of the few civil rights figures who does not object.
Asked by InsideSources, Young replied, “I’m on the other side.” “I am in favor of anything that increases people’s sense of safety and autonomy. Most government offices already use facial recognition software.
The man went on to say that he supports the use of photo (or video) identification in nearly all circumstances.
Our voter ID could include a picture of the voter. An executive order is all that is required of the president. Even fingerprints could be incorporated into it. It can be used for other purposes as well.
Take a picture of whatever you’re doing. Only people with a criminal record would be affected, and even then, it is already a problem.
“It’s done in India. It is a country with more than a billion people,” Young continued.
Rackliffe is concerned about three things.
“The software’s accuracy is the first concern.” There is always a downside to new technology. To identify you, the facial recognition software scans your biometrics. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are therefore employed to verify your identity.
For people with darker skin tones, studies have shown that it may not always be accurate incorrectly identify them. Among people with darker skin tones, the rate of false positives and false negatives have been higher.
With the IRS relying on a third-party vendor like ID.me, Rackliffe is also uneasy.
Rackliffe described the company as a “third-party company you have between yourself and the government.” “That’s always a nerve-wracking situation.” The government has chosen to work with this company to collect and store that data.
The fact that we hear about companies being hacked and sensitive information being compromised can frighten some people.”
She also points out that neither the IRS nor ID.me have explained how they collect data or where it is stored.
“Who will have access to this data and what will they do with it are all legitimate concerns. This could be compared to the one-to-one face recognition found on iPhones. Concerns about it being used as a facial recognition database are more widespread.
Will the information be made available to law enforcement? These concerns have arisen as a result of the IRS’s failure to specify who will have access to or use this data.