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IRS reconsidering ID.me requirement for online accounts

Written on Feb 1, 2022

We told you last week about the IRS’s decision to require taxpayers to take a selfie and verify their identity with ID.me to access their online accounts on IRS.gov. That raised objections from privacy advocates about the company’s software and its use of facial recognition technology.

On Jan. 28, the Treasury Department told Bloomberg News they are looking for alternatives.

“The IRS is consistently looking for ways to make the filing process more secure,” spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna said in a prepared statement.

LaManna said it has been “impossible” for the IRS to develop its own identification program because of “the lack of funding for IRS modernization” and noted that any taxpayer who does not want to use ID.me can opt against filing their taxes online.

Research has shown that AI-driven facial recognition software often makes mistakes with darker-skinned people. That identified bias in the technology has prompted activists to call for law enforcement agencies to abandon using it altogether. Critics have also raised concerns about the third-party company’s access to facial images, but the Treasury official stressed that the IRS protects any data it receives and that the law protects taxpayer information from disclosure to other parties.

Read more from Bloomberg.