IRS Plan to Make Facial Recognition “Optional;” Fails to Address Privacy and Equity Harms
February 22, 2022
In an announcement, the IRS and identity verification company ID.me revealed that individuals will now be able to opt out of submitting to facial recognition by going through a live interview process. Earlier this month, after criticism from EPIC, other experts, and members of Congress, IRS stated that the transition away from facial recognition would “occur over the coming weeks” and that the agency was “quickly pursuing short-term solutions that do not involve facial recognition.” The announcement this week makes clear that facial recognition is still part of the “short-term solution.”
EPIC and a coalition of over 45 privacy and civil liberties groups, including Fight for the Future and the Algorithmic Justice League, recently published a letter calling on states and the federal government to abandon ID.me and facial recognition technology. The coalition stated “Facial recognition technology has been found to be biased, have a disproportionate impact on people of color and other marginalized communities, and the use of the technology has serious implications for privacy and civil liberties.” The coalition noted the obstacles people of experienced with ID.me’s live interview option and argued that such obstacles may force users to submit to face verification. Individuals can join organizations pushing back against the use of face verification by signing this petition.