Treasury reconsiders IRS use of facial recognition due to privacy concerns

According to . A department official said the agencies were exploring alternatives to the controversial facial recognition software, although that official did not specifically cite privacy concerns around for the decision.

“The IRS is constantly looking for ways to make the filing process more secure,” Treasury Department spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna said. Bloomberg. “We believe in the importance of protecting taxpayer privacy, while ensuring that criminals cannot gain access to taxpayer accounts.”

Citing a “lack of funding for IRS modernization,” LaManna also said it was “impossible” for the agency to develop its own internal identification solution, and noted that U.S. taxpayers are not required to declare their taxes online. Late last year, the IRS people to use to access parts of its website, including sections related to services such as the US Bailout. Starting this summer, the agency will also require people to register with before they can file their taxes online. It’s a process that will require taxpayers to provide their government ID, a copy of a utility bill, and a video selfie to the Virginia-based company.

The Treasury Department’s decision to reevaluate its use of comes the same week as the company. Blake Hall, CEO of, said the company uses the technology to verify selfies related to government programs that are frequently targeted by organized crime elements. Hall made the statement after previously claiming that the company was not using the “more complex and problematic” one-to-many approach.

Privacy advocates have criticized both approaches. Research indicates that most facial recognition systems struggle to identify people with darker skin. Experts have also expressed concerns about the security risks associated with storing biometric data.

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