IRS Says It Will Move Away From Requiring Facial Recognition

from the good-move dept

Last month, we wrote about how the IRS and other federal agencies were starting to require the use of private facial recognition from a somewhat sketchy private company, for people to access their own government’s services. The main company in question,, had made some… questionable decisions that raised serious questions about why the government was forcing people to make use of such a private service.

Earlier this morning, Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to the Treasury Department calling on them to drop the facial recognition requirement, and within hours the Treasury Department told Wyden it would be “moving away” from that plan, and then the IRS put up a more official statement:

The IRS announced it will transition away from using a third-party service for facial recognition to help authenticate people creating new online accounts. The transition will occur over the coming weeks in order to prevent larger disruptions to taxpayers during filing season.

During the transition, the IRS will quickly develop and bring online an additional authentication process that does not involve facial recognition. 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 IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “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 transition announced today does not interfere with the taxpayer’s ability to file their return or pay taxes owed. During this period, the IRS will continue to accept tax filings, and it has no other impact on the current tax season. People should continue to file their taxes as they normally would.

Last week the Treasury Department had said it was “reviewing” the matter, but today’s announcement is a big deal. It’s rare to see a government agency move this fast, so kudos to Treasury/IRS for acting quickly (though, it can be argued that it never should have gotten this far in the first place). But also kudos to Wyden for helping make this happen as well.

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “IRS Says It Will Move Away From Requiring Facial Recognition”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
ECA (profile) says:

How many agencies need Proof of 'What'

How many agencies are looking for ways to Prove our identity?
As I told 1 site I pay bills on. Who cares if they get into my account, if they want to pay my Bills Go for it.
How many people does it take to Prove that a Very good share of our data have been released into the wild.

The only idea is HOW to make it secure again? What a great Idea, take everyone’s picture and add it to another file They cant protect.
Interesting to have a terrorist war, create the Star card ID(Bush from the 2004 time) and it took almost 20 years to get every one invested into it. And now we have to have the Gov. have our picture?
(dear state/DMV/DOT, do not share my Picture)

A bunch of EU Ancestors, That cant figure out how to get a Picture of a Colored person To work as ID, are trying to get every White persons Picture.
Who gets to be the first person on the space ship?

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: How many agencies need Proof of 'What'

mostly satire.
But with all the Server hacks, the odds say that 99% of the data is out there. Esp. after the Credit agency was hacked for most of their data. Which includes your SS#, You past addresses, Spouse,All companies you have credit with. And any reports made about you.
And if you dont know, there are a few sites that monitor the Smaller server hacks. There isnt 1 per day, its more to the 5-10 per day. And the list is interesting, if you go read who the main hits are.
Go look it up. the reports generally list Big things, but not the small ones Like doctors offices. And then Major companies dont report hacks until its later.

Rest of the comment is based on the idea that Corps want You, and they want to know You are you. With 10,000 J. Doe in the USA. Which one is you. They can bill, the wrong person. They cant arrest the Wrong person. The Credit corps can not keep your records if they dont know its really You. And why they use your SS#, Which is illegal. it was, but never enforced.

Terminal Digital-Member says:

3rd Party still needed

IRS still requires everybody to use a 3rd Party to e-File a tax return online.
Apparently the IRS can’t figure out how to let Americans file their confidential tax returns ‘directly’ to official IRS government-owned/operated servers.

Of course these 3rd Party companies (like TurboTax and Free-File companies) require a seperate account with your personal ID info;
plus, they have access to your full tax return and can store it indefinitely.

If you prefer to prepare your own tax return but don’t want to share your most private financial information with the random employees of some 3rd Party tax company — you must use Snail-Mail to file, with its normal heavy delays and risks of lost paperwork.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 3rd Party still needed

Apparently the IRS can’t figure out how to let Americans file their confidential tax returns ‘directly’ to official IRS government-owned/operated servers.

Well, not without pissing off the whiny tax companies and political grandstanders and purchased politicians who think, or at least claim, the practice is anti-competitive or communism or something something flavor of the month.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...