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.
“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.