The facial recognition component of ID.me’s identity verification software, which is used by numerous states and federal agencies, is being phased out.
It’s a significant reversal, according to The Washington Post, which reported on it on Wednesday (Feb. 9).
The move comes in response to criticism over privacy issues and the accuracy of facial recognition technology.
The IRS announced earlier this week that it would not be using ID.me’s facial recognition system to verify taxpayers’ identities for online accounts, which prompted today’s decision.
According to PYMNTS, the IRS did not anticipate taxpayers using the system to pay or file taxes, check refunds, or check the status of amended returns.
A new system that allows people to create accounts on the IRS website, where they can check payment plans, look up records, and access information about stimulus payments or child tax credits related to COVID.
ID.me’s face-scanning technology has been used by the IRS, as well as the Social Security, Labor, and Veterans Affairs departments, to scan millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits, tax credits, and pandemic assistance grants in California, Florida, New York, and Texas.
Selfie and photo data will be available for deletion beginning March 1, ID.me says.
“We have listened to the feedback about facial recognition and are making this important change, adding an option for users to verify directly with a human agent to ensure consumers have even more choice and control over their personal data,” Blake Hall, the company founder, and CEO said in a statement.
“Biometrics has no place being used by agencies that provide people with basic services,” says Evan Greer, director of the digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future, who has expressed concern about this change.
Greer told the newspaper that most people are unaware of the dangers of handing over biometric information to a private company.
As a result of being directed there by a government agency they know and trust, or have previously interacted with, they may assume it is safe.” People’s private information is at risk by having this as an “option.”