The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will soon require taxpayers to submit a scan of their face in order to access certain features and tax records.
The change, first reported on by Krebs on Security, will force users to sign into the IRS website through an account with third-party firm ID.me, and provide a government identification document with their photo alongside a selfie to verify their identity, according to the IRS website.
The IRS first announced its partnership with ID.me in November, arguing the arrangement would “improve accessibility” and security for users.
“Identity verification is critical to protect taxpayers and their information. The IRS has been working hard to make improvements in this area, and this new verification process is designed to make IRS online applications as secure as possible for people,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said at the time.
The IRS did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for further comment on the arrangement. An agency spokesperson told CNBC that while a facial scan was not needed to file taxes, users would have to submit one to access tax records, view or manage payment plans, and/or access the Child Tax Credit Update Portal.
“The IRS emphasizes taxpayers can pay or file their taxes without submitting a selfie or other information to a third-party identity verification company,” the spokesperson said. “Tax payments can be made from a bank account, by credit card or by other means without the use of facial recognition technology or registering for an account.”
The IRS’ decision to adopt facial recognition technology has worried privacy advocates, who argue the collection of biometric data could enable widespread surveillance.
“This announcement signals one of the largest expansions of facial recognition technology in the U.S. and there is no question that it will harm peoples’ privacy and ability to successfully complete their taxes,” Caitlin Seeley George, campaign director for Fight for the Future, said in a statement shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“This will essentially create a new, massive database for law enforcement to use to track people without their knowledge,” Seeley added.
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