The IRS Will Soon Make You Use Facial Recognition To Access Your Taxes Online

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IRS: Starting this summer, those who access and pay their taxes online will be required to enroll in a third-party facial recognition corporation. Even individuals who have previously created an account on IRS.gov with a username and password will be required to provide ID.me, a Virginia-based identity verification provider, with a government ID, a copy of a utility bill, and a selfie. You’ll have to shoot a video selfie with whichever webcam or mobile device you’re using to sign up, which could present issues for those with outdated technology or who don’t have one.

ID.me is a “trusted technology provider” of identity verification services, according to the IRS. Anyone with an ID.me account from another government agency can sign in using that information. Brian Krebs opened a new ID.me account and complained that the sign-up process was time-consuming and buggy in his blog post. He got stuck halfway through the procedure and had to restart from the beginning, after which he was prompted to attend a video conference with an ID.me employee, which took over three hours.

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ID.me says it doesn’t “sell, lead, or trade biometric data to any third parties or derive any benefit from the sale, lease, or trade of biometric data” under its “privacy bill of rights.” According to its website, it can share information with partners with users’ explicit permission, and when you sign up for an ID.me account, you must agree to the company’s biometric consent policy. The corporation collects facial and voice biometrics to “comply with a request from law enforcement or government bodies where not forbidden by law” and to “check identity and defend against fraudulent behavior.” Even if you deactivate your ID.me account, the corporation may keep your biometric data for a long time, depending on “the nature of the data and related legal or operational retention considerations.”

ID.me is a corporation that was used by more than two dozen states to verify those applying for jobless benefits earlier in the pandemic. In June 2021, Motherboard reported that ID.me had failed to identify certain applicants and that they were unable to contact anyone at the company to resolve the issue. At the time, ID.me CEO Blake Hall told The Verge that the company employs a technique akin to Apple’s FaceID or the way a TSA official compares a passenger’s face to their identification at an airport.

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