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Critics Sound Alarm on IRS Plan to Use Facial Recognition Tech

January 28, 2022

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will begin requiring taxpayers to use facial recognition to check their account online or get a transcript online — a move critics warn “without sufficient guardrails” could lead to information being “easily reused in other way,” Axios reported Monday.

“This announcement signals one of the largest expansions of facial recognition technology in the U.S. and there is no question that it will harm peoples’ privacy,” said Caitlin Seeley George, campaign director at Fight For the Future.

The IRS will use a third-party company called for those select online services and will involve using a combination of documents and a video selfie to confirm their identity before interacting with the agency. According to the report, the IRS announced the move last November but has gained more attention last week on a security expert’s blog.

Seeley George said that’s terms of service allow the company “the right to share people’s data with police, government, and ‘select partners.’” She further noted that when was used for state unemployment benefits, taxpayers reported having problems with the system.

She said, though the company said its own research did not find disparities based on skin color:

Not only is it an issue that misidentifies people of color, gender-nonconforming people and women, but this system requires people to have a smart phone or a web camera in order to submit photos, which means economically disadvantaged and older people are going to have greater challenges getting through the system.
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