Due to a significant backlash from the public and U.S. lawmakers, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will no longer require taxpayers to send a "video selfie" to verify their identity, in order to access online services.
The IRS was set to implement the plan this summer.
It would have required taxpayers creating new online IRS accounts and/or obtaining tax transcripts online to verify their identity with a "video selfie," which would then be sent to a third party vendor, ID.me, to carry out the verification process.
The IRS system raised significant data privacy and security concerns among privacy advocates and citizens, considering the sensitivity of both the facial recognition and the taxpayer information it was designed to secure.
Lawmakers from both parties objected to the plan. That includes Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who tweeted on Jan. 20 that he was "very disturbed that Americans may have to submit to a facial recognition system."
Wyden called on the IRS to stop the practice saying, "The IRS does not use facial recognition for tax filing or to receive a refund, and the agency should not require facial recognition for any of the other important services it provides taxpayers. I have long argued that Americans should not have to sacrifice their privacy for security,” he said.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), the head Republican on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, is another lawmaker who recently wrote IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig, questioning the new policy.
It was Sen. Bill Huizenga (R-Michigan) who authored a bill in early February to ban the IRS from using facial recognition software on taxpayers.
"It shouldn't be legal," Huizenga told Fox Business in an interview announcing the bill.
"Every page we turned on it, it was like red flag going up after red flag," Huizenga said of the facial ID plans.
"I just don't trust them with this information in that one, I don't think they're going to be able to keep it secure and two, I don't trust them with what they will then do with the information."
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig responded in a statement saying:
“Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition.”
The IRS said this change in plans will not interfere with a taxpayer’s ability to file their return or pay taxes owed.
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