The IRS will soon make you use facial recognition to access your taxes online

Beginning this June (2022), the Internal Revenue Service will require people who pay their taxes online to enroll in a third-party facial recognition company , Virginia-based ID.me. Even those who have already registered on IRS.gov with a username and password will have to provide a government ID, a copy of a utility bill, and a selfie to ID.me. You’ll have to provide a video selfie to this private corporation.

Let’s think this through.

I find ceding identity verification to a private company particularly problematic in that ID.me is indemnified by the United States federal government for any negative situations arising from misidentification and data breaches. I also see significant privacy issues in that the public has not been provided information regarding:

1. the accuracy – and corroborating data – of ID.me’s facial recognition software and capabilities,

2. their security protocols in preventing identity theft and,

3. their intended full range of known or potential use of this extremely personal data. Will our video selfies be shared with law enforcement and intell agencies? The latter is highly likely and something I do not have an issue with unless it turns into a Carter Page type situation wherein the rights of the individual are abused by unauthorized law enforcement/intell agencies claiming “security” concerns.

Once facial recognition inevitably becomes the accepted and preferred method of personal identification, its use will undoubtedly spread to the majority of government agencies, private industries (banking, medical, transportation) and credit reporting agencies, to name several, which also seems likely to cause problems for people with older hardware or who don’t have access to one.

I’m also curious as to why these selfies must be video versions rather than the usual 2-d photographs currently in use on government identification documents. Perhaps to align with public video surveillance that now incorporates facial recognition software currently in use in airports, train stations, federal building and sites, etc.? Tangentially but relatedly, soft mask facial recognition technology is already here and in use.

While laws are almost always reactive, since we can foresee many scenarios in which facial recognition as a form of identification can be abused or misused, we should strive to be ahead of these potential negative impacts by ensuring absolute transparency by the administering verification entities and, concise, easily accessible and understandable terms of service for the participating registrants for this service as well as opt-out options that still allow the process in which identification is necessary to continue unhindered.

BNI Operatives: situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

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