Facial recognition will soon be optional for government agencies using ID.me

The identity verification company ID.me has announced that it will make facial recognition verification optional for public sector government partners.

The Virginia-based company recently made headlines after the IRS revealed its plans to require US taxpayers to submit a video selfie in order to create an account on its website. However, following backlash from citizens,  privacy advocates and lawmakers, the government agency has since backtracked on these plans.

In a press release, founder and CEO of ID.me, Blake Hall explained that the company will now provide public sector employees working for the government with a new option to verify their identities, saying:

“We have listened to the feedback about facial recognition and are making this important change, adding an option for users to verify directly with a human agent to ensure consumers have even more choice and control over their personal data.”

Not a biometrics company

ID.me will now give government agency employees the option to verify their identity with an expert human agent as opposed to having to submit a video selfie.

At the same time, beginning on March 1, all of the company's users will be able to delete their video selfies or photos. This is good news due to the fact that if ID.me were to fall victim to a data breach or even suffer a data leak, employees who used its identity verification service could be at high risk of identity theft as cybercriminals would have access to a great deal of their personal information.

In its press release, ID.me also pointed out that it is an identity verification company and not a biometrics company. So far, the company's trained agents have already verified the identities of over 3m Americans including the unbanked, homeless and international users. During the pandemic, law enforcement and government agencies also employed ID.me's services to prevent criminals from committing unemployment fraud.

While the IRS has dropped its plans to implement identity verification for US taxpayers, the government agency could reverse course in the future.

Via Gizmodo

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

IRS drops use of facial recognition for ID verification

The IRS has backtracked on plans to allow users to verify their identities using facial recognition after a major backlash.

The government body had announced it would be using a a third-party facial recognition system built by a contractor called ID.me to verify US taxpayers looking to log in to its online portal.

However, following concerns over how much biometric data would be collected by the tool, and worries of possible identity theft, the IRS now says it will drop the technology for good.

No ID.me

“The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement

“Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition.”

The move had drawn the attention of several prominent US lawmakers, with Republican and Democrats alike raising concerns over possible cybersecurity risks, as well as recent findings claiming facial recognition systems can often feature in-built racial bias against non-white faces.

Instead of ID.me, the IRS will now be implementing an “additional authentication process” that doesn’t collect facial images or video, with the changeover set to be completed within the next few weeks.

Along with the uncomfortable amount of data being given over, users had also complained that if the system failed, they would instead spend hours aiming to have their identities manually approved in video calls with a separate third-party company.

The IRS statement added that the change does not interfere with the taxpayer's ability to file their return or pay taxes owed, and that the IRS will continue to accept tax filings, meaning users should continue to file their taxes as normal.

“The IRS will also continue to work with its cross-government partners to develop authentication methods that protect taxpayer data and ensure broad access to online tools,” the statement concluded.

First launched back in 2010, Virginia-based ID.me was originally created to help ecommerce sites validate the identities of customers like veterans, teachers and students who might be eligible for discounts at online retailers. 

Unlike other online verification services, ID.me requires applicants to submit even more documents, including copies of utility bills and details about their mobile phone service in addition to scans of their driver's license or other government-issued IDs.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More