The Internal Revenue Service will stop using controversial facial-recognition software for taxpayers trying to access online tax accounts over concerns about privacy and security.
The transition from ID.me, the third-party verification system that required taxpayers to upload video selfies to access their tax information online, will begin in the coming weeks, the IRS said Monday. The IRS said it would add additional verification tools that don’t involve facial recognition, but didn’t specify how those would work.
The use of the software has been the subject of bipartisan criticism from lawmakers in recent weeks because of concerns about privacy as well as questions about racial bias embedded in the program.
“The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement Monday. “Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition.”
The IRS said the tax filing season, which began last month and runs until April 18 for most taxpayers, would not be hindered by the transition away from using ID.me.
The decision was immediately praised by Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden, who sent a letter to the IRS earlier Monday asking them to discontinue the use of the program.
“I understand the transition process may take time, but I appreciate that the administration recognizes that privacy and security are not mutually exclusive and no one should be forced to submit to facial recognition to access critical government services,” Wyden said in a statement after the IRS announcement.