Paul L. Caron

Saturday, January 29, 2022

The IRS Wants To Scan Your Face

Washington Post, IRS Wants to Scan Your Face:

IRS Logo 2Millions of Americans will soon have to scan their faces to access their Internal Revenue Service tax accounts, one of the government’s biggest expansions yet of facial recognition software into people’s everyday lives.

Taxpayers will still be able to file their returns the old-fashioned way; the IRS began accepting returns for 2021 earnings on Monday, encouraging electronic filing. But by this summer, anyone wanting to access their records — including details about child tax credits, payment plans or tax transcripts — on the IRS website will be required to record a video of their face with their computer or smartphone and send it to the private contractor to confirm their identity.

About 70 million Americans who have filed for unemployment insurance, pandemic assistance grants, child tax credit payments or other services have already been scanned by the McLean, Va.-based company, which says its client list includes 540 companies; 30 states, including California, Florida, New York and Texas; and 10 federal agencies, including Social Security, Labor and Veterans Affairs.

But’s $86 million contract with the IRS has alarmed researchers and privacy advocates who say they worry about how Americans’ facial images and personal data will be safeguarded in the years to come. There is no federal law regulating how the data can be used or shared.

The system itself also is drawing complaints. Some people have reported frustrating glitches and hours-long delays that have kept them from important benefits, and researchers have argued the company has overstated the abilities of a face-scanning technology that could wrongly flag people as frauds. ...

The partnership with has drawn the attention of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who tweeted that he was “very disturbed” by the plan and would push the IRS for “greater transparency.” The Senate Finance Committee is working to schedule briefings with the IRS and on the issue, a committee aide said.

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