Republican Senators Raise Concerns About IRS Use of Facial Recognition

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta February 4, 2022
Updated 2022/02/04 at 8:06 AM

A group of Republican senators led by Mike Crapo of Idaho sent a letter to the IRS expressing concerns about the agency’s partnership with the facial recognition service. Starting this summer, taxpayers will have to register for an account in order to access the online services the IRS offers, including the ability to file taxes through its website. To be able to apply, they need to send a copy of their identity document, an electricity bill and a video selfie. Senators called the latter the “most intrusive verification item” as it is more than just sending a photo of the face and cannot easily be replaced as a password.

In the letter, the group said it is “deeply concerned for many reasons”, starting with the government’s “unfortunate record of data breaches”. He mentioned the attacks on the Personnel Management Office in 2015 as an example. If you remember, two separate attacks on the agency compromised the information of millions of current and former federal employees and led to the theft of 21.5 million social security numbers.

The group also cited a 2019 IRS report in which it estimated it faces 1.4 billion cyberattacks a year. “It is highly likely that with the personal information of 70 million individuals reported, including biometrics, could be a prime target for cybercriminals, rogue employees and spying,” the senators wrote. They asked the agency a series of questions designed to clarify the partnership in the letter. Senators want to know whether the IRS did due diligence to ensure taxpayer information was protected before approving the partnership, and what kind of oversight the agency has over the company. they also asked the IRS if it ensured that the system had passed an independent cybersecurity audit, among many other things.

The CEO recently admitted that the system uses a more powerful facial recognition method than previously claimed. In a statement, he said that employs a 1:many approach, which means it compares images with those in a database. He previously said he only uses a 1:1 approach that compares a person’s face to a photo on their government ID. ONE Bloomberg A report published after that said the Treasury Department is reconsidering the IRS’s partnership with the company and is now looking at alternatives to its facial recognition software.

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