Saturday, February 19, 2022
Following up on my previous posts:
Washington Post op-ed: Taxpayers Will Pay an Enormous Price for the IRS Not Using Facial Recognition, by Stewart Baker (Steptoe & Johnson, Washington, D.C.):
The Internal Revenue Service’s use of face recognition technology has unleashed a storm of congressional criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. This rare moment of bipartisanship would deserve recognition — if the critics were right.
But they’re not.
The background is familiar to anyone who pays federal taxes. The IRS and millions of taxpayers have been plagued by identity fraud for years. Impostors have claimed other people’s tax refunds before the real returns were even filed. They have collected billions in covid-19 relief benefits using stolen identities. To stem the bleeding, the IRS contracted with ID.me, a private identity verification firm. That firm uses, among other things, face recognition technology to match applicants’ video photos to the pictures on their driver’s license or passport. ...
Cowed by the accusations of bias and privacy, the IRS announced that it will “transition away” from face recognition. But both accusations are false, and the price that you and I will pay for this panicky retreat is enormous. ...
[T]he privacy and equity benefits of dropping face recognition are tiny. But the harms are staggering. During the covid emergency, the government lost more than $100 billion to American, Russian, Chinese and Nigerian scammers using stolen American identities. Every day, more victims of identity theft find themselves trapped in a nightmare of lost funds, bad credit and sometimes even criminal charges.