After activists, lawmakers, and privacy experts sounded the alarm, the IRS announced it would abandon plans to use ID.me’s facial recognition tool to verify taxpayers’ identity in early 2021. But the agency has back peddled on its commitments, continuing to contract with ID.me without giving people a good alternative to its facial recognition verification. To access your IRS.gov account, users either have to go through the facial recognition process, or get on a video call with a live person. This requires a strong internet connection, a quality camera, and could take hours. This is not a reasonable alternative, and disproportionately excludes rural and economically disadvantaged users.
Meanwhile, a Congressional Oversight Investigation reported more issues with ID.me, including details on the unreasonable time it took people to go through the video verification process and how the company lied about data on unemployment fraud during the pandemic. Governmental agencies should not be contracting with ID.me or any company that uses facial recognition for identity verification.
In addition to the IRS, Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, and 30 state unemployment offices use ID.me. Sign the petition demanding an immediate end to all these contracts and a full investigation into the Federal government’s use of facial recognition.
We’ve already seen the destructive results of facial recognition technology like ID.me’s playing out in real time, from police using it to track Black Lives Matter protesters, to wrongful arrests, to manipulative marketing. The new IRS system would have expanded the scope of these harms and impact the lives of millions more people.
Whether it’s a collection of selfies, drivers licenses, or images from social media accounts, building databases of sensitive personal information – including faces, voice recordings, fingerprints, and other forms of biometric data – represents one of the largest threats to our safety in the digital age.
This technology is not safe for any Federal agency or state government. We must keep up the pressure to ensure that all government agencies end the use of of facial recognition and biometric surveillance technology. Sign the petition and send a message to your lawmakers today.