The Internal Revenue Service will partner with a third-party facial recognition company to confirm the identity of taxpayers for certain transactions.
Originally reported by Reason magazine, the IRS requires a photo of an identity document via ID.me. This includes Social Security numbers and other private data. The new policy would be put in place before the end of the summer.
ID.me is a third-party facial recognition company that some companies use to verify identity or eligibility for a program. An example would be when a phone service company requires a teacher identification card to add an education-related discount to the user’s account.
To have your identity verified through ID.me, you are required to "provide a photo of an identity document such as a driver's license, state ID or passport" and "take a selfie with a smartphone or a computer with a webcam," according to the IRS website.
Although the IRS maintained that taxpayers will not have to use this program to file taxes, other IRS programs require verification.
"The IRS emphasizes taxpayers can pay or file their taxes without submitting a selfie or other information to a third-party identity verification company," an IRS spokesperson told Gizmodo.
Accessing your tax records online, setting up a payment plan, and obtaining an identity protection pin requires a user to verify their identity through ID.me.
The IRS website added that "additional IRS applications will transition to the new method over the next year.”
"Information we receive about you can be accessed and preserved for an extended period when it is the subject of a legal request or obligation, governmental investigation, or investigations of possible violations of our terms or policies, criminal and other investigations, or otherwise to prevent harm."
Although the company said it “do[es] not sell your Personally Identifiable Information," the security risks posed by the program could be significant.
The company’s policy notes that "no data transmission over the Internet or any wireless network can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. As a result, while we employ commercially reasonable security measures to protect data and seek to partner with service providers that do the same, we cannot guarantee the security of any information transmitted to or from the Website, and are not responsible for the actions of any third parties that may receive any such information."
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