CyberNews Briefs

IRS To Ditch Biometric Requirement for Online Access

Earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stated that it would be transitioning away from requiring biometric data from taxpayers who seek to access their records via the agency’s website. The decision to reverse the former policies comes as privacy experts and lawmakers have voiced concerns over the federal government’s use of biometric data and methods of validating one’s identify with the US government online. In 2021, the login page for the IRS displayed a text advising that, by the summer of 2022, the only way for taxpayers to access their records would be via an online identity verification service that collects sensitive biometric data, such as facial scans using a webcam.

The site, called ID.me, announced that it would be partnering with the IRS in November. However, it became clear that most taxpayers had no idea that the new requirements would be enacted by the IRS and other federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration. ID.me boasts 64 million users, with 145,000 signing up each day. However, the bulk of those users are individuals who have been required to sign up as a condition of receiving state or federal financial assistance, says Krebs on Security. ID.me has been problematic for legitimate applicants who were denied or delayed benefits because they were unable to complete the verification process. Some critics spoke out against the difficulties of facial recognition technology and its inaccuracy when it comes to individuals with darker skin. In addition, those with limited access to technology or the internet also find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to enabling services such as ID.me to access government documents.

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